Can You Swallow Chewable Tablets?

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses whether or not chewable tablets can be swallowed whole.

Question

Can you swallow chew tabs? I just prefer to swallow tablets that are too sweet.

Asked by Mary On Sep 23, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Sep 23, 2022
Last updated Sep 25, 2022

Key points

  • Most chewable tablets can safely be swallowed whole.
  • Chewable tablets that are chewed may work a little faster than non-chewed tablets, but the time difference generally isn't significant.
  • There are some rare cases where chewable tablets should not be swallowed whole, such as with the drug Fosrenol. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Answer

Yes, the vast majority of chewable tablets can be swallowed intact with no problems. Chewable tablets are designed and manufactured to be broken up in the mouth, to aid people with swallowing problems or to increase palatability. When chewable tablets are swallowed whole, the acid in our stomach will dissolve them and they will be absorbed like usual.

Are There Chewable Tablets You Must Chew?

It is extremely rare for a chewable tablet that can not be swallowed whole, but there are examples. One such example is the prescription drug Fosrenol (lanthanum carbonate). After the drug was released, there were reports of serious GI obstruction and fecal impaction when chewable tablets were swallowed whole.

The above is a rare example, however. In most cases, you can feel safe swallowing chewable tablets whole if you desire. If you have a question about a specific product, consult your pharmacist or check the package labeling.

Are There Any Disadvantages To Swallowing Chewable Tablets?

Overall, there generally is no problem swallowing most chewable tablet products.

However, aside from some very specific product requirements (as mentioned above), there are some cases where chewable tablets are absorbed faster than swallowing (and not chewing) a solid dosage form, and thus, may work faster.

Essentially, a chewable tablet is already partially broken down from chewing and the digestive action of saliva, which makes it more quickly absorbed than an intact tablet when it reaches the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. This isn't overly significant though for most drugs, and may simply result in a chewed tablet working just slightly faster.

Final Words

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References

  • Chewability testing in the development of a chewable tablet for hyperphosphatemia, PubMed
  • Fosrenol Prescribing Information, AccessFDA
  • Safety of chewable tablets for children, PubMed

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Feel free to send him an email at Hello@HelloPharmacist.com! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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