I Have A Hidden Pill Compartment

Went to bed with a headache, woke up intermittently during the night to find it still there, and got up in the morning with the same headache or one very similar to it. So I took an aspirin, which stuck in my throat, as pills usually do. I figured it would slide down along with my breakfast. The headache receded after a cup of caffeine solution and I forgot about my pill.

After more than five hours, during which I had no trouble eating or breathing, I coughed the pill up, unchanged. Where was it in the interim!? Can most people swallow pills without nibbling them to gravel, as I usually have to?

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

15 thoughts on “I Have A Hidden Pill Compartment”

  1. This isn’t normal, and I would suggest you seek medical advice.

    Usually pills should be taken by placing them on the middle of the tongue, and then drinking some water to wash them down. You don’t seem to be doing this; in which case it is indeed an interesting question as to where they go. Nowhere that they ought to be, that’s for sure.

    Ask a GP — general practitioner — for help and advice. This kind of trivial but annoying thing is what GP’s specialise in.


  2. Thank you Roger. My usual M.O. is to nibble my pills. Or to fill my mouth with water, look at the ceiling, poke the pill through my pursed lips and swallow the water + pill before the pill hits my palate. Works slightly better for me, I believe, than the method you describe.


  3. Cats are experts of “recycling” pills like this. I suppose you had it lodged up in the air passage just above the part where it joins the digestive tract (espohagus?). If it had been lower down you would have coughed it out.


  4. Perhaps it was in your pyriform sinus:

    people have learnt that they can create pouch-like structures in their throats by keeping lead discs inside their pyriform sinuses, thereby enlarging the sinuses over time (the pyriform sinuses are yet another set of paired pockets, this time positioned on either side of the opening to the larynx). These resulting pouches – termed ganahs – were said by Guthrie (in Anon. 1927) to be used by Indian criminals “as a safe hiding place for coins or precious stones”.

    Source: http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2010/10/mammal_pockets_sacs_pt_i.php


  5. According to my gastroenterologist, this could be dangerous, with the pill eroding the lining of wherever it lodges. He has seen a number of people with holes in their esophagus caused by stuck pills. He says to always use lots of water and then follow with food for things like aspirin and antibiotics.


  6. This could be dangerous, with the pill eroding the lining of wherever it lodges


    This happened to a friend of mine!

    Be careful!


  7. Are we going to have to ball your pills up in cat food, hold your nose, and massage your throat to get the medication down you? Maybe a large-bore funnel and a broomstick.

    Weird. I have friends that have difficulty with pills. Never quite understood it. A lady I know got into serious trouble after what was said to have been an iron supplement, prescribed to treat anemia, caught in her esophagus and ate a hole. She starts coughing up blood and ends up in the ER.

    Her doctor had some story that difficulty swallowing pills might have something to do with low output of saliva. I don’t know. You do have that thin, semi-dry look that I associate with people being a quart low. Lots of people could do, feel, better taking in a little more water before taking pills.

    Those few times pills have caught for me I was a bit dry. Taking the pill with the water didn’t help much. I suspect that this is like rain falling on bone-dry ground. The water washes over without soaking in. Try a goodly amount of water to wet the slide, then the pill and a little more water wash it down.

    If that doesn’t work there is always the cat food or broomstick.


  8. -This could be dangerous, with the pill eroding the lining of wherever it lodges-

    Fact. Happens in animals (esp cows) pretty frequently when untrained or careless people use the pill gun and deposit the pill in the wrong spot. You can get some truly nasty infections.

    If you cannot get a whole pill down any other way, I would suggest coating it in something squishy and tasty and swallowing the whole thing, followed by a large glass of water. Nibbling the pill is a less good choice; some drugs need to be in their pill form in order to have the right pharmacokinetics (increasing the surface area will change the dissolution rate and change the availability of the drug to enzymes and for uptake; also some pills have special coatings).


  9. A few years back I had to take huge penicillin pills against Lyme disease, and man did they taste bad. Worst I’ve ever tasted actually. When they got lodged in my throat I had to feel that taste for hours upon end, bleagh.


  10. I’ve found that coated pills go down easier than uncoated. (Of course the best coatings are on the brand name pills.) You could try greasing up the pills, though that might impact the digestion rate. You could try practicing with candy, I guess.

    I learned to swollow pills very young because I can’t stand the taste of virtually any liquid medicine, so I only get into trouble when my enormus calcium pill gets turned around as i swollow it and gets stuck. Chokeing on a pill is never a nice way to start the day.


  11. Get a squeezable plastic bottle of water with a sport cap — one of those nipple-like things you can open or close with one hand, while jogging or whatever. Put the pill in your mouth, then squirt in a large slug of water all at once. You’ll swallow the water without noticing the pill.


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