When not to chew medicine

Note: it is impossible for me to swallow something as big as a tablet without chewing it properly. So I asked on the then-active Google Answers for an answer, and this is what I got for my $5.

Subject: Chewable vs. capsules and tablets medicine.


Why are some medicines/vitamins labeled chewable? Does that imply that

others cannot be chewed? Can I chew regular medicine (tablets and

capsules)? Is there anything bad done to the mouth? I cannot make

myself swallow the thing.

Are regular tablets assumed to be chewed or swallowed?



This answer is not intended to substitute for the opinion of a

qualified health professional that you trust. If you have any specific

concerns or questions you should discuss them with him or her.

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Medications and vitamins labeled ?chewable? have a couple of

properties that are important. First, they supposedly taste good. That

is, of course, a matter of personal opinion. Another thing is that

chewable medications must either be able to survive the saliva in the

mouth and the acids in the stomach in order to be absorbed further

down the digestive tract, or they must be substances that are absorbed

in the mouth or stomach primarily. If a medication is not specifically

labeled as ?chewable? then it is intended to be swallowed whole.

Liquids can, of course, be swallowed as they are. :)

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As was mentioned by pinkfreud-ga, there are medications that cannot be

chewed without having potentially bad outcomes. There are two classes

of medications in particular that should not be chewed. Time-release

and enteric-coated medications.

Time-release medications are those designed to be released slowly

rather than all at once. This is usually done to reduce the number of

times a day a particular medication must be taken. With pain

medications it is done to create a more stable amount of narcotic in

the blood stream so that pain is controlled on a long-term basis. For

example, Oxycontin is a sustained-release form of oxycodone, taken

twice a day. Most immediate-release narcotics are taken anywhere from

every 1 to 6 hours. If one were to chew an Oxycontin tablet he or she

would receive a dose that was equal to anywhere from 2 to 12 doses of

a shorter acting pain pill! Too much for one person to handle.

Many blood pressure medications and anti-depressants are made in

time-release forms, as well as a number of other medications.

Medications labeled as ?XR,? ?CR,? ?XL,? and the like are often

time-release forms, but you would need to call your pharmacist to

confirm this.

Enteric-coated (EC) medications are designed to resist digestion in

the stomach to prevent adverse effects. Aspirin and ibuprofen are two

medications that are commonly used in an enteric form. While you could

chew these, you would be opening yourself up to side effects that the

EC tablets were trying to avoid in the first place, namely stomach

irritation, ulceration, and bleeding. Also, aspirin and similar

medications can cause ulceration of the mucous membranes in the mouth,

so the less time it spends in your mouth, the better.

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There are many, many medications that can be chewed or crushed before

swallowing, without affecting how well the particular drug works. A

common practice is to crush a pill and mix it with something like

applesauce to improve the palatability and make it easier to swallow.

Again, if you ask your pharmacist, he or she can tell you which of

your medications can be taken this way. Some are even soluble enough

that you can mix them with water or juice and take them that way.

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There are more and more medications being reformulated as ?solu-tabs?

or ?readi-tabs? or some other dissolving form. These are placed under

the tongue or simply in the mouth, and then the tablet ?melts.? Along

with being a great way to extend a patent, it can also make the

medicine easier to take.

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Many tablets that are not described as "chewable" will have an

unpleasant taste if you chew them. If a time-release drug is chewed,

too much of the active ingredient may be released at once, which can

be dangerous.

Chewing aspirin or other highly acidic medications can be bad for your

teeth and can cause mouth ulcers:



Why did I bring this over here? Because large companies so often seem ok with hitting the delete button on your data (YouTube videos anyone?). So it is here because it's personally mine.

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