Tablets, capsules and dragees

Often the way medicines are taken is crucial to their successful use. Whether an active ingredient as a tablet, dragee or juice comes along, depends on when it should act at what place and at what time in the body. Around 1.4 billion packages of medicines were sold in Germany's pharmacies in 2015, including 749 million prescriptions. When handing over the medication, pharmacists and employees point out special income regulations. We have summarized what to consider when taking tablets, capsules & Co.


For tablets that are swallowed, the active ingredient is absorbed in the stomach or intestine. These tablets contain fillers (excipients) such as lactose and so-called "disintegrants", which facilitate the dissolution of the tablet. For the tablet to dissolve completely, it must be taken with plenty of liquid.

It is best to use tap water or still mineral water at room temperature to take the tablet. Warmer water would dissolve the tablet already in the mouth or during swallowing in the throat and then trigger an unpleasant gagging. Milk and fruit juices are unsuitable because they can lead to interactions with the active ingredient of the drug.

Tablets taken with alcohol tend to cause liver damage rather than a successful recovery. Tablets are best taken with the upper body raised.

If you swallow tablets lying down or only halfway up, you may be swallowed. Of course, this also applies to all medications that are taken "orally" (through the mouth), including dragees, capsules, juices, drops, teas or syrups.

In order to be able to take the tablet easily, you should head forward slightly! tend. If one puts the head backwards, the liquid can run ahead and the agent in the mouth or in the esophagus get stuck.

note leaflet

If the doctor or pharmacist does not recommend otherwise, the package leaflet provides information about the optimal time to take the medicine. Because one should take into account in any case, because while a drug is swallowed on an empty stomach, another must be taken because of its stomach irritant effect together with a meal.

Only divide tablets if they have a specially designed scoreline and if the package leaflet provides a half or quarter tablet for dosing. Because not all tablets may be divided: film-coated tablets, dragees and sustained-release tablets give their active ingredients targeted and often over a long period of time. The outer layers of a tablet may include bittering agents that would be released upon parting.

In the case of film-coated tablets, the film protects the active substance against an attack by the stomach acid. The film itself first dissolves in the small intestine and the active ingredient can then be absorbed by the body. Thus, if tablets are broken, the stomach acid destroys the drug and the drug becomes ineffective.

The long-acting tablets may not be divided; because they lead the active ingredient for hours to the body. Breaking the tablet would release the drug abruptly in the body and act as an unwanted overdose.

Dragees consist of a core and a layer that completely surrounds the nucleus. They are best swallowed whole with liquid.

Capsules have a gelatin shell that can be hard or soft. The interior of the capsule contains the solid, liquid or paste-like active ingredient. Also, capsules must be taken with plenty of fluid.

Tablet divider from the pharmacy

Sometimes the doctor only prescribes half or quarter tablets. Then the tablet has to be shared. The experience with this is universal: Rarely, the drug can be divided smoothly. The package leaflet reveals how the respective tablets can best be divided.

In the pharmacy you can also buy a tablet divider, which makes it easier to share the drug. It is advisable to take a look at the tablets when buying the tablets or redeeming the prescription. If you have trouble picking up a problem, then you can have it explained on the spot.

Swallow large tablets more easily

With some tricks you can swallow especially large tablets more easily. A sip of water before taking it moisturizes the mouth. The tablet should then be placed as far back on the tongue as possible and washed down with plenty of water.

Especially with large tablets, one should tilt the head when ingesting - as described above - slightly forward (!) So that the water does not run out of the mouth and the tablet does not remain on the tongue. If the tablets can not be swallowed, another dosage form may be possible.

Not all tablets are swallowed

Some tablets only work if they melt under the tongue. The mucous membrane is extremely thin there and smaller drug molecules can therefore easily penetrate them. In this way, the drug gets directly into the blood and the drug works very fast. Such tablets are used inter alia in the treatment of severe pain or acute attacks of angina pectoris.

Melt on the tongue:
For the effect to be sufficiently strong, the drug must have contact with the oral mucosa for a sufficient period of time. Therefore, the appropriate tablets must not be sucked, but must melt slowly. The tablets that melt under the tongue (sublingual) or between the gum and cheek (buccal) are also called lozenges.

Prosthesis wearers should insert a lozenge above the bit into the upper cheek pouch. Careful eating and drinking cold drinks are possible. With a tablet in the mouth should not be smoked. If drugs are prescribed for mouth or throat inflammation, the pollutants from cigarettes prevent the healing process in the mouth and throat anyway.

Assistance from the pharmacy

Taking medication correctly is often particularly difficult for the elderly. Child-resistant closures, for example, are sometimes insurmountable when the lid has to be pushed down and turned with trembling hands at the same time. Here, the pharmacist can transfer the contents into a normal glass jar and label this accordingly. With a push-through aid tablets from so-called "blister packs" can be easily removed.

Quietly let it roar!

Effervescent tablets are dissolved in water and then drunk. They contain, in contrast to normal tablets, for example, sodium carbonate for rapid dissolution and flavorings such as berry, lemon or orange flavor. Effervescent tablets are also not dissolved in hot drinks, milk or juice - unless the package leaflet expressly requires it.

In the case of effervescent tablets, which have an expectorant effect, you should also drink plenty of water between the individual receipts. As a result, the dissolved mucus can be transported away better. When the effervescent tablet is completely dissolved, it should be drunk directly.

If you drink it sooner, the entire active ingredient will not be absorbed and the desired effect will be delayed or completely eliminated. Again, your pharmacy will advise you on all medication issues competently and with pleasure.

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