The effect of a citrus tastant on pill swallowing

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If using a sweetened citrus tastant (i.e., a chemical that stimulates the taste buds and produces a sense of taste) to coat a pill could make swallowing pills easier, this could have a considerable positive impact on the ability to swallow pills in healthy adults and on those with identified swallowing difficulties who need to take a variety of oral medications. In this study, it was predicted that pills would be cleared from the pharynx more quickly and efficiently if a pill was coated with a tastant. Thus, the following study examined the effect of a pleasant citrus tastant on pill swallowing in healthy individuals (7 male; 17 female) aged 19-49 years (M = 27.83 years). Durational measures of swallowing were obtained from real-time ultrasound images of the oropharyngeal swallow. It was hypothesized that swallow durations would be shortest for citrus-coated tablets, followed by water swallows and then plain pills. Although results from statistical analyses did not support a quicker oropharyngeal swallow for one stimulus over another, rationale for lack of significant findings, such as a ceiling effect for healthy pill swallowing, are provided.