Can you eat pills without water?

In this brief article we will answer the question,” Can you eat pills without water?” We will also discuss the dangers of eating pills without water and some strategies of taking pills without water. We will also briefly look at how to take pills if you have no access to water.

Can you eat pills without water?

No, it is not advisable to take pills without water. We have all been in situations where we were feeling ill and had to take some prescribed pills. It’s always  recommended to wash down pills with a healthy amount of water; a full 8-ounce glass of water is good enough.

Now at some point, some of us might have downed some pills without water because we were feeling too lazy to reach for a glass of water or were in a hurry to get somewhere. This is a very risky practice and a bad habit to form.

What are the dangers of taking pills without water?

Taking pills without water poses some inherent dangers to the body. Let’s discuss 4 dangers of taking pills without water:

Pills might get lodged in the esophagus

If you do not wash down pills with water chances are the pills might get lodged in the esophagus. This might not only cause discomfort but also poses a risk for other symptoms which range from chest pains and heartburn to esophagitis. In more severe cases this may result in internal bleeding and development of holes.

Erosion of tissues

It should also be noted that the esophagus has no pain nerves. This makes it a tad difficult to work out if the pills have washed down the digestive tract. People might feel a slight discomfort which they may dismiss as heartburn. 

However, overtime the buildup of pills in the esophagus might eventually lead to erosion of the esophagus tissues. This can result  in hemorrhaging and severe dehydration which can be fatal.

Development of ulcers

If someone makes this a habit, this could also lead to development of ulcers in the esophagus. A study derived from the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology found that most kinds of medications can result in ulcers in the esophagus. 

Some common medications can in fact  cause significant damage when they get stuck, including drugs to treat osteoporosis, antibiotics, and over-the-counter pain relievers.

  • Swallowing pills without water also can counter the effectiveness of the pills to work. When a pill is swallowed, it travels down all the way to the liver through the stomach and small intestine.

    In the liver it is broken down and moves into the bloodstream. If a pill is washed with water the breakdown and subsequent absorption into the bloodstream is much easier and quicker. This translates to faster working of the medication.

What are the best strategies to swallow pills?

Wash down with water

Obviously, the best way to take pills is by washing them down with a good amount of water. It is recommended you drink a glass of water. A good way to do it is by first taking a sip of water to moisten the throat and mouth. Placing the pill into the middle of the mouth then washing it down with a big gulp of water.

Take a forward lean 

This technique has proven to increase swallowing for 88% of participants in a study. What you want to do is, place your chin up and your shoulders back as you place the pill in the center of your mouth. Then quickly tilt your head forward as you swallow.

Coat with a gel 

The idea here is to best improve the taste of the pills. The lubricant gel also assists in reducing the discomfort that comes with the pill sliding down the esophagus.  

Use a straw

Using a straw to wash down a pill is an effective strategy because the reflexes created by the movement of sucking up the liquids create a distraction when swallowing your pills down.

Use a pop bottle method: 

This technique was developed by researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. This method is also specifically designed for swallowing tablets. 

You start by filing a bottle with water, then place the tablet on your tongue while closing your lips tightly around the bottle opening. Proceed to take the water keeping contact between the bottle and your lips and utilizing a sucking motion. 

Try a pill swallowing cup:

 Pill swallowing cups are specially designed with a spout that extends to the back of your throat making use of natural reflexes to swallow pills. These can be found available in many pharmacies to assist individuals in swallowing pills.

What do I do if I have no access to water and need to take pills?

In the unlikely scenario that you find yourself without water and need to stick to a prescription. Make sure to swallow the pill with an excess of your saliva to provide the lubrication that’s needed. 

Also ensure you take a pill at a time and have your head back or tip your chin forward as you swallow the pill.


In this brief guide we talked about the dangers of taking pills without water and the best strategies for taking pills. We also briefly discussed how to take pills in the event you have no access to water.


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