If you got a pill stuck in your throat, it could be a terrifying moment, but it is a rare medical emergency.
If someone you know has swallowed a pill, it obstructs the airway, and the person cannot breathe. You can also try the five-and-five method or the Heimlich maneuver.
Before you do either of these, you should have someone who can call 911.
Here are the steps to perform the five-and five method by the Red Cross, follow these steps:
- Stand behind the person, place one arm across their chest and lean them forward at the waist.
- Give five blows to their back, between the shoulder blades, with your hand’s heel.
- Also, place the thumb side of your fist above the navel, against the middle of the abdomen.
- Repeat the process until the person coughs or the pill comes out.
If you want to perform just the abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, follow the steps below:
- Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist.
- Learn the choking person slightly forward.
- Make a fist with your hand and place it somewhat over the person’s navel.
- Use the other hand to hold on to the wrist.
- Press into the person’s abdomen in a quick, upward motion.
- Repeat the steps five times if needed.
When you are alone
If you are alone and a pill is obstructing your airway that’s making it tough to breathe, follow the steps:
- Make a fist and place it above the navel.
- Use your other hand to hold on to the first.
- Bend over a hard surface like a table edge, railing, or chair.
- Push the fist into the abdomen in an upward, quick movement.
If the person coughs persistently
If the person is coughing, they can breathe, and the airway is not 100 percent obstructed. Encourage the patient to continue coughing to get the pill out.
It would help if you did not leave the pills in the throat to dissolve. A medication may burn the lining of the throat, which leads to esophagitis. It is a condition where the esophagus becomes inflamed. Esophagitis may also be caused by other states, like GERD, injury, or infections. It may make swallowing painful and difficult.
You can also try this method:
- Put water in the mouth
- Lie down in a flat position
Why does the pill gets stuck?
Pills most often get stuck in the person’s throat because insufficient moisture helps the pill slide down. Pills, including the coated ones and the gel caps, are often tough to swallow without liquid.
Pills most likely get stuck in a person’s cricopharyngeus muscle or the sphincter at the top of the esophagus. People with disorders involving the muscle often have difficulty swallowing pills.
Seniors and young children often have the most trouble swallowing the pills.
How to prevent getting a pill stuck in your throat
Here are a few ways where you can avoid a tablet from becoming lodged in your throat:
- Take the medicine in plenty of liquids. Drinking water after, during, and before you swallow the pill will ensure it doesn’t get stuck.
- Give throat muscles some room to work by tilting your head forward.
- Take the pill with yogurt, gelatin dessert, or applesauce unless the medication needs to be taken on an empty stomach.
- Check with the pharmacist whether your pills can be mixed with food, crushed, or dissolved in water.
If you want to get rid of stuck pills in the throat, follow the above steps. It can help you get rid of emergencies in case you incur one.
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