I am completely unable to swallow whole pills. Never been able to overcome the gag reflex.

But I am in a lot of pain and the doctor prescribed over the counter pain medication such as Advil.

I have ibuprofen and Advil pills. I know I remember a nurse at emerge telling me I could chew "Advil" or some other big name over the counter pain medication that she brought me (it was not a chewable pill, and it's name started with "A").

So my question is. Is there any adult over the counter medication that you can confirm is safe to chew? I would highly prefer the answer to include normal medical and not some super expensive chewable drug meant for my sort of case.

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    You say your doctor recommended Advil. Advil is the brand name for ibuprofen, they are the same. Don't take both. Generally most formulations of ibuprofen are crushable - but generally speaking capsules. extended release, and "enteric coated" pills are not. Consider getting a pill crusher if you can't tolerate pills, it may make it more palatable than chewing. Ibuprofen is also available in liquid in some places. I can't confirm that the specific pill of ibuprofen that you bought is safe to crush however - but the pharmacist at the pharmacy can tell you for sure!
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 23:24
  • swallowing pills is a learned skill. If you were to ask how to gain that skill, I could answer it for you. In the meantime, try asking the pharmacist if there's a liquid preparation you can take a reasonable quantity of. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 0:09
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    ok, I asked the question myself, and answered it: health.stackexchange.com/questions/15184/… more answers would be good of course Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


You can try soluble aspirin, or Diclofenac suppositories per rectum. Cancer patients have other modalities of pain relief available to them, many of which are open to abuse and addiction.

But the best thing is for you to overcome your gag reflex which in most cases is learned and can be unlearned (otherwise you wouldn't be able to eat food).

This method involves using a toothbrush to progressively desensitize yourself by touching more and more of the region that provokes your gag reflex. It takes a month to abolish.


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