Crushing Medications

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Question

Is it OK to grind up pills and put them in food to make them easier to swallow?

Answer

Depending on what the medication is, crushing or even splitting pills to make them easier to swallow may or may not be a good idea. This is a situation where your pharmacist can advise you, since it should be determined on a medication-by-medication basis.

Certain drugs are time released, which means they are formulated so that the medication is released in the patient over a period of time - usually many hours. Crushing the medication means that the medicine will release all at once, which can result in the drug being unsafe for the patient - almost as if he or she took too much of the original dosage. Plus, the drug might be less effective, since it is not actually treating the patient during the period of time it was intended to release (again - this time-release period is often over many hours).

Some medications have a special coating that allows them to be digested with few or no side effects or so that they will be released in the intestines rather than the stomach. Breaking open such medications could cause side effects because the protective coating is broken.

Swallowing pills is indeed difficult for some patients, and compounding the medication in another form can help. Certain drugs are available in liquid, powder, or chewable form; some can be converted (compounded) to a different form, such as a patch, topical cream or ointment, and so on. Your Walgreens pharmacist can discuss compounding options available.

Read about Walgreens medication compounding services.

Learn more about specific medications.

Find out about Walgreens services for caregivers.

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