How to Take Pills That Are Not Coated

Drink lots of water when you swallow uncoated pills.

Uncoated pills can leave a chalky residue on your tongue, or worse, stick to your tongue as you try to swallow. The lack of coating means the pill isn't very slippery and can start to disintegrate the moment liquid hits it. Take uncoated pills in the same way you would swallow coated pills, but take steps to avoid residues and aftertastes, and ensure that the pill doesn't melt on your tongue before you can swallow it. For this you need lots of water, and you may also have to cut or crush the pill get it down.


Basic Procedure

Step 1

Ask the pharmacist from whom you got the pill to verify the pill is not coated. Enteric and sustained-release coatings are not always obvious.

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Step 2

Take a drink of water, juice or other liquid to get your mouth wet. Do not use carbonated beverages, which can be difficult to gulp down quickly.


Step 3

Place the pill on your tongue, toward the back.

Step 4

Take another big drink of water immediately after putting the pill in your mouth. Swish the water around a little to get the pill mobile and prevent it from sticking to your tongue. Hold your head level because if you tilt it back, the pill could float to the top of the liquid in your mouth, moving it farther away from your throat.


Step 5

Swallow the liquid and pill in one gulp. If you feel like the pill is stuck, start drinking more liquid until the pill goes down.

Other Methods

Step 1

Tuck the pill, if small, in a spoonful of ice cream or applesauce to make its chalky exterior more slippery. Swallow the spoonful of ice cream or applesauce in one go.


Step 2

Cut the pill using a pill cutter, which is a tool you can buy at pharmacies. Be very careful as these cutters have thin razor blades in the lid. Place the pill in the cutter so the blade is aimed at the center of the pill, and shut the cutter quickly. This will cut the pill into two smaller portions, which may be easier to take before dissolving in your mouth. Or wrap the pill in a paper towel, place a sharp knife along the middle of the pill and gently push the knife into the pill. The towel will keep smaller bits that break off from scattering over the counter.


Step 3

If the cut portions are still too big, place the pill in a bowl and smash it with the back of a sturdy spoon. Crush the pill and mix the bits in with ice cream or applesauce, then swallow the food. Drink water immediately after to wash away any taste of the medicine.

Things You'll Need

  • Large glass of water, juice or other noncarbonated liquid

  • Bowl

  • Small spoon

  • Applesauce or ice cream

  • Pill cutter

  • Paper towel

  • Sharp knife

  • Large, sturdy spoon


Do not cut the pill if the pharmacist tells you it has enteric coating or is sustained or extended release. If you have trouble taking pills and need something smaller, talk to the pharmacist and your doctor about taking a smaller-dosage pill or a liquid.

Do not mix the pill with food if the instructions say to take it without food.

Use caution around pill cutters and knives.




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