Does Your Medication Have an Unpleasant Taste?

There's no getting around it, certain medications taste so awful they make you want to gag! Although you can sometimes ask for a different medication (ask your doctor) or formulation (ask your pharmacist), you generally just have to take your medicine as ordered. The following tips may help make your medication easier to swallow:

Tips

  • Plug your nose before you take the medication; odour is responsible for a large portion of taste when you swallow.
  • Desensitize your taste buds by sucking on a piece of ice or eating ice cream right before taking your medicine.
  • Brush your teeth or gargle with mint-flavoured mouthwash just before taking your medication (products with a strong mint flavour leave a long-lasting taste in your mouth).
  • Eliminate the bad taste by drinking a liquid or eating a cracker right after.

If the medication comes in liquid form:

  • Many products taste less when cold, although in some cases, the opposite can also be true! Ask your pharmacist whether placing your medication in the refrigerator will reduce its unpleasant taste.
  • Add the medication to a small quantity of food (such as yogurt or stewed fruit), but check with your pharmacist first; some medications should not be taken with other foods such as dairy or grapefruit. Also, do not mix your medication with a large quantity of food or liquid; you'll simply make the bad taste last longer. With children, avoid putting the medication in healthy or vital food sources as your child could associate the food with the medication and develop an aversion to the food in question.
  • Use a syringe to take your medication, placing it at the side of your mouth, about half way down your tongue.

If the medication comes in tablet form:

  • Place the pill(s) in a bit of bread or dip it in maple syrup or jam.
  • Crush the pill(s) and add it to a small quantity of food such as yogurt or jam. (Check with your pharmacist first: Some tablets are coated to protect your taste buds and some medications should not be taken with certain foods such as dairy or grapefruit.)
  • Place the pill(s) on the back of your tongue and swallow whole with water.

If none of these measures are effective and the medication still makes you gag, talk to your pharmacist who's always there to help.

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