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20.09.2018

Hate swallowing pills? Try this trick.

When Pasquale Palumbo was prescribed medication for high blood pressure, the irony wasn’t lost on him that the thought of swallowing four pills each morning caused his anxiety to spike. “I kept gagging and was gritting my teeth to get them down,” says the 43-year insurance professional from Mount Pleasant, NY, who has hated taking...
Time: 18:07     Date: 16.04.2018
US Living News: Hate swallowing pills? Try this trick. NY Post 24 - US News

“I kept gagging and was gritting my teeth to get them down,” says the 43-year insurance professional from Mount Pleasant, NY, who has hated taking pills since childhood.

He suffered through the problem until a month ago, when his younger daughter, Mia, 6, came down with a nasty stomach bug. She, in turn, had difficulty downing her antibiotics.

So the father of two sought help from Wendy Tedesco, 42, a former medical assistant turned licensed therapist and hypnotist, who offers the unusual service of pill-swallowing classes in her tiny Pleasantville, NY, office, equipped with just a couch and a table.

“I thought, ‘If I’m getting my kid to do this, I’ve got to be a good example,’ ” says Palumbo.

The problem is more common than people realize. A 2015 study in the journal Pediatrics found that more than 50 percent of children were unable to swallow a standard-size pill or capsule.

Meanwhile, a 2013 study of adults in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology revealed that more than 30 percent had difficulty swallowing pills. And troubling data shows that almost 10 percent stopped taking the medications as a result of their fear.

“It’s a huge deal for some people,” Tedesco tells The Post. “Pills can be a mental roadblock.”

Susanna (left) and Mia Palumbo take pills with hypnotist Wendy Tedesco.stefano giovannini

She developed her technique about 10 years ago after having a particularly hard time taking some bitter-tasting medication of her own. The pill lodged on her tongue, partially dissolved and she gagged.

“That’s when I realized, after first placing the pill on your tongue, you have to slug your mouth with a lot of liquid to get the pill to float and not stick,” says Tedesco.

The next step is throwing back your head like a pelican eating a fish.

“You then loosen your esophagus with a side-to-side wriggling motion [of the neck] — a lot like stretching your muscles prior to exercise — and take a big gulp.”

The “wriggling” part is particularly popular among kids because it helps break the ice when Tedesco demonstrates it. “They can pretend they’re an animal to make a game of it,” she says.

The candidates start Tedesco’s training process using candy, such as tiny Nerds, before graduating to mini M&Ms, full-size M&Ms and then Tic Tacs.

The final test of their resolve is to take the medication itself.

“Most of the time, we get the real pill down, but it can take some time to get to that stage,” says Tedesco, who charges $160 per session (in some cases, they can last as long as two hours) and sees an average of three patients with the issue each month.

She also coaches patients in deep-breathing techniques and gives them positive reinforcement throughout.

“As long as you at least try, that’s half the battle,” says Tedesco, who mostly relies on word of mouth for referrals.

At their class, the Palumbos took turns swallowing the various sizes of candies until, after about an hour, both Mia and Pasquale felt confident enough to gulp down their respective medications.

“We were cheering and clapping once we did it,” says Palumbo. “It felt like a big achievement. Now, we’re swallowing pills like champs.”

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