Tablets are the most common form of medication available for adults that can be bought, either as an over the counter non-prescription drug or as a more potent drug, that must be prescribed by a medically qualified practitioner. As with all medication, care must be taken that there is no chance that there will be an adverse interaction with other medication taken at the same time and that the drugs are taken as instructed either by your doctor or as set out in the leaflet supplied by the manufacturer. Some medication that can be bought over the counter and prescription medication needs to be taken with food while others must be taken a period of time either before or after food and others may need to be taken with a glass of water. All these things should be explained to you either by your doctor or by the pharmacist when the prescription is filled.
Tablets or pills are formulated in different ways to deliver the active ingredients into the blood stream in a way and rate that will deal with the symptoms of the condition most effectively. Some of the active ingredients may be destroyed by the acid in the stomach or aggravate the stomach itself. These tablets are coated with a special enteric coating that will protect the drug from the acidic conditions until it can be absorbed without being destroyed or protect the stomach from the drug itself. Another reason for using an enteric coating would be if the drug needed to get passed the stomach before it is absorbed. Some tablets or capsules are designed to release the active ingredient at the right speed in a specific location or at a steady rate over a period of time unlike an analgesic or pain killing tablet like aspirin which needs to be absorbed as quickly as possible to relieve the pain symptom or symptoms.
Tablets come in many different forms, which range in size from the very small to some that are large. Many people have difficulty swallowing medication in tablet form it may be because of the size of the tablets, the texture and even the taste, which is why some tablets are sugar coated to make the tablet more palatable to swallow. If you have difficulty taking tablets please discuss the problem with your doctor or pharmacist, because prescribed medication has many different formulations, they may not be suitable for crushing and in some cases crushing tablets can in fact be dangerous. It has been reported that tablet crushing can increase the risk of side effects. In some cases it is possible that the medication can be prescribed in another format which will be easier to swallow, such as in a liquid form, a suppository or pills that will dissolve in the mouth.
If no alternative formulation is available and it is safe to do so, the pharmacist will be able to assist you in the best method to use to break up the tablet so that it is easier to take. Generally tablets are supplied in concentrations that require you to take only one tablet at a time or at the most two. Very rarely it may be necessary to take only one half of a tablet at a time which will require splitting the tablet as accurately as possible to achieve the correct dosage. Some tablets have a line scored in the middle to make them easier to break in half or a pill splitter can be used if only half a dose is needed. The pharmacist or doctor may suggest that it would be easier to take the pill by dissolving it in water. There are a number of tablet crushers on the market today to crush tablets more efficiently without changing the dosage then the crushed tablet can be added to water or juice to mask the taste. Some are travel boxes with an integrated pill cutter and pill grinder, while others are designed to deal with tablets of different sizes or shapes, ask for the pharmacist’s help to select a suitable pill crusher that you find comfortable to use and will crush pill easily. Once the tablet is crushed it can be added to water or food to make it easier to swallow, but again take advice from your doctor or pharmacist on the best method to use to minimise the chance of interactions with the food itself or any other medication that you may be taking and avoid any potential problems.