Tall tales may be hard to swallow, but they're a lot easier than the five-at-once swords daredevil Dan Meyer eased down his esophagus in 2005 (they punctured his stomach) or the 30-inch sword he swallowed two years later - while submerged in a tank with 88 sharks and stingrays!
But, believe it or not, for many people, swallowing medication is even more challenging.
Young or old, your inability to get a pill down the hatch may happen because you have a strong gag reflex; are dealing with a nerve disorder such as Parkinson's or stroke-related nerve damage; suffer from a food allergy, dementia, head or neck cancer; have esophageal problems (dysphagia); or severe gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD). Or maybe anxiety is making swallowing difficult.
While we don't recommend Mary Poppins' solution (a spoonful of sugar) there are, fortunately, effective remedies.
If a disease is making it difficult to swallow your meds, you need the help of specialists.
More simple solutions may include: changing the angle of your body, neck or head when you swallow; altering the size or texture of what you are trying to swallow; and practicing mindfulness to ease anxiety and relax your reflexes.
To suppress your gag reflex, you can try taking a deep breath before putting the tablet in your mouth.
But never break, crush or chew any medication without your doc's OK. With an OK, putting the meds into a smoothie or getting them in a yummy gummy formulation may help.
© 2014 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
© King Features Syndicate