What’s the worst that could happen if I swallow my …

  • What’s the worst that could happen if I swallow my medication gummies instead of chewing them completely as the instructions say I should?

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    Chewables work more effectively and quickly when they are broken apart by the mechanism of chewing and mixing with saliva. It won’t harm you if you swallow it, but the medication won’t be absorbed by your body as completely as it would otherwise be. So you will not get full therapeutic benefit.

    The therapeutic effect of medications is always best achieved by following the instructions regarding its consumption. Something that has been tested to be effective if injected will never work anywhere near as well if swallowed, and vice versa. If instructions are to put something in your ear, then you’d be a fool to put it in your eye. If you’re supposed to put a medication in your anus, but you put it in your vagina instead, you will damage your vagina and will do nothing to help the illness you were hoping to treat. If you’re supposed to inhale something but decide it would be just as well if you drank it, then you will get no therapeutic benefit.

    Millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours are spent documenting the best delivery route of every medication. If you decide you are going to try ingesting it a different way, then you are conducting a foolish clinical experiment with an N of 1 and you have only yourself to blame if it goes bad.

    Good question! I had to go check the aisles at Target to see if I could formulate a decent answer to this one.

    My first concern would be the dangers of choking. All the available meds I checked that were available in gummy form were fairly large. The one I purchased to check this out was a ZzzQuil Pure Zzzs(R) melatonin supplement. The gummies weighed an average of 3 grams. That’s a heck of a big pill to try & get down your neck at one go, especially if they are sticky or coated with sugary crystals.

    The inactive ingredients common to most gummies seem to be pretty bland: sucrose, corn syrup, coconut oil, pectin, maltodextrin, flavoring agents & food colorings. Your stomach acid would break these down pretty quickly. So I don’t think that swallowing the gummies whole would affect the absorption of the active ingredient to any great extent.

    So – worst case scenario – choking on the darn things. Don’t try this when you are at home by yourself.

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    As an additional comment to the majority of answers I have discovered that treating my CBD gummies as though there were sublingually administered drops by chewing then sort of packing the chewed bits under my tongue the pain relief comes more quickly than chewing and immediately swallowing them.

    It’s the difference between a 15 minute onset of pain relief sublingually as opposed to chewing and swallowing then waiting for the digestive system to get the CBD into my system 45–60 minutes later.

    Since I only use gummies when I’m away from home and I make them with the tincture I make for sublingual doses, I opted to try this method a few weeks ago.

    Much more effective.

    My successful CBD gummies. Yay!

    It will take longer to break down and possibly not give you the desired dose or affect it should.

    It will not be harmful, just not as effective as it is meant to be.

    I would not worry too much as it is just like swallowing chewing gum, accidents happen and our body will take care of the odd one here and there.

    Just try and chew the rest of them so you get the full benefit.

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    Answer requested by

    Hi Stephanie. The worst is the medication won’t be as effective and this could possibly have a cumulative consequence. And if you don’t want the maximum benefit, why take the meds, right?

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    Depends on what the med was, usually it could influence the speed of uptake, but no problems with the uptake eventually.

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    Answer requested by

    STEPHANIE, PROBABLY NOT A WHOLE LOT. YOU MAY NOT ABSORB THE MEDICATION AS QUICKLY.

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    If by ‘bad’ you mean ‘is it harmful’, the answer would be no, it’s not bad to swallow a chewable pill. Either chewable or swallowed whole, pills are made to be taken orally so they will do no harm to you.

    However, when pills are made to be chewed it’s usually so that they will take effect faster, or in the case of antacids and some other pills meant to suppress indigestion swallowing them whole may make them either less effective or slower to act.

    That’s because when you chew a tablet it create a bunch of small particles which have more surface area than the one big tablet so they can dissolve faster. If you swallow the tablet it may not dissolve completely before it passes through the stomach and completes dissolving in the intestines instead. Thus it may get absorbed in a different part of the digestive system which in turn means that it goes through a slightly different cycle in the circulatory system. That in turn means that either more or less gets removed by the liver so you get a higher or less dose than designed and you get the highest blood concentration either sooner or later than designed.

    It won’t harm you, but it may mean that it won’t be as effective as it would be if it was chewed the way it was designed.

    Some pills, especially the so-called ‘extended release’ type of tablets, only work as designed when swallowed whole because the delayed release is done by using enteric coating that slow down the dissolution in the stomach so chewing them exposes the inside of the pill before it should. Just the opposite, chewable pills would take longer to dissolve than designed.

    But they still work. Just not the way you’d expect.

    Both chewable and swallowed tablets are ingested orally.

    (There are many factors that go in the drug’s formulation. For example, drugs given intravenously act the fastest , as they go into the bloodstream directly, have higher bioavailibilty and hence can be absorbed by the target cells faster. Drugs ingested orally have to pass through the digestive system first (esophagus, stomach acids and intestinal absorption), and are then released in the bloodstream.)

    Coming to your question, without going into too many details, I will answer it in the simplest way possible (with two very specific examples)

    Let’s take drug A that irritates the esophagus(food pipe). Hence the drug is enclosed in an outer covering (tablet/capsule) that dissolves in the presence of either the stomach/intestinal enzymes, and because of the coating, drug A passes through the esophagus without irritating it. Thus we SWALLOW the tablet!

    Drug B however, doesn’t irritate the esophagus, but when it is enclosed as a capsule/tablet, absorption from the intestine to the blood is really poor because of the coating, and the drug becomes practically useless. Hence, it is advisable to chew the tablet for faster absorption!

    Chewable tablets are advisable for kids/old patients who have difficulty swallowing. The above examples are very specific. Many other factors, like the time of release of the drug, effective/harmful concentration of the drug, interaction of the drug with specific enzymes/proteins, etc. are all taken into account while the drug is formulated.

    Hence, it is advisable not to swallow a chewable drug/vice-versa, because the desired effects won’t be obtained.

    If by ‘bad’ you mean ‘is it harmful’, the answer would be no, it’s not bad to swallow a chewable pill. Either chewable or swallowed whole, pills are made to be taken orally so they will do no harm to you.

    However, when pills are made to be chewed it’s usually so that they will take effect faster, or in the case of antacids and some other pills meant to suppress indigestion swallowing them whole may make them either less effective or slower to act.

    That’s because when you chew a tablet it create a bunch of small particles which have more surface area than the one big tablet so they can dissolve faster. If you swallow the tablet it may not dissolve completely before it passes through the stomach and completes dissolving in the intestines instead. Thus it may get absorbed in a different part of the digestive system which in turn means that it goes through a slightly different cycle in the circulatory system. That in turn means that either more or less gets removed by the liver so you get a higher or less dose than designed and you get the highest blood concentration either sooner or later than designed.

    It won’t harm you, but it may mean that it won’t be as effective as it would be if it was chewed the way it was designed.

    Some pills, especially the so-called ‘extended release’ type of tablets, only work as designed when swallowed whole because the delayed release is done by using enteric coating that slow down the dissolution in the stomach so chewing them exposes the inside of the pill before it should. Just the opposite, chewable pills would take longer to dissolve than designed.

    But they still work. Just not the way you’d expect.

    Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, white crystalline in its pure form. Usually powdered. There is nothing to chew since it dissolves in your mouth.

    There is no difference in what form you get it. In the raw form or in (hard) tablets it has obviously sour/acidic taste. Not that bad but citric acid is way better. Tablets are easier to take since you can swallow them without tasting them too much.

    It’s even better in capsules, no taste at all. But some people have problem with swallowing such large chunks. You need water to swallow them.

    Effervescent tablets are larger and you need to dissolve them in a glass of water. It is usually flavored since if you do not like sour lump of powder in your mouth then you’d definitely not enjoy glass of sour water.

    The chewable thing you are asking about is vitamin carried in a soft candy that you can chew. It is flavored and you can chew it like, well, any other candy. You do not need any water at all. Just eat it as any soft candy.

    So, the difference is in the way you eat the vitamin C, not in the actual vitamin. It is always the same matter.

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