When your child is sick, chances are you have a difficult time getting him or her to swallow their prescription pills. It’s a problem parents and caregivers have in common- getting a child’s medication into their body. Liquids typically come in several flavors, which can be helpful, but pills are another matter.
Some pills are tiny and smooth – making the job easier. But others can be large powdery and oddly shaped. To make things worse, they may need to be taken throughout the day. So, what’s a parent to do?
The results of a small study may be just what the doctor ordered. Researchers have found that a flavored spray, called Pill Glide, may make pill taking a lot more flavorful -- and maybe even enjoyable.
"There was a significant decrease in the difficulty of taking medicine with these sprays," said Dr. Catherine Tuleu, a pharmaceuticals researcher at University College London, who conducted the research with colleagues at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK. "The kids liked to be in charge and to change the flavor."
What is Pill Glide? It’s a spray that is squirted into the mouth to lubricate and add flavor to tablets and capsules to make them easier to swallow. It's available in five flavors: strawberry, peach, grape, bubble gum and orange, with strawberry coming through as the favorite in the trial. Its ingredients include artificial flavors and sweeteners. This spray was used in the trial study with results published in the journal Pediatrics.
Tuleu and her team tried it among 25 children ages 6 to 17 that were receiving long-term therapies for HIV or organ transplants and who were transitioning from liquid medication to solids or were known to struggle with swallowing pills.
Keeping diaries, the study participants used a six-point scale to note the levels of difficulty they experienced when taking their regular tablets for two weeks and then using the Pill Glide sprays for one week. The final analysis was conducted on 10 children who had kept complete diary entries.
The flavored sprays were found to decrease the level of difficulty by a score of 0.93, almost one full level on the scale used by the team.
"The swallowing of medicine in the form of pills often poses a real challenge for a good many children, making this study of definite interest," said Dr. Laura Jana, a pediatrician and director of innovation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, who was not involved in the research. "Something as seemingly simple as improving the taste and ease of swallowing a pill can have a significant impact on the proper and effective use of medicines."
The trial was very small and limited especially when you look at the number of participants, their health issues and the age group. But it may still be a process worth considering.
Tuleu acknowledges these limitations, and in addition to trying Pill Glide among larger groups, she wants to test its benefits in children who are less familiar with taking pills and who start out on solid pills, rather than transitioning from liquids.
"It would be interesting to try it with more naïve patients," she said. "If swallowing is not the challenge anymore, giving medication could be a lot easier."
Will this product make it easier for all kids to take a pill? Probably not. But this new approach may help some kids get past their difficulty with swallowing larger, more uncomfortable pills. It’s worth a try!
Story source: Meera Senthilingam, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/01/health/kids-swallowing-pills-spray/