Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important information from Sharp
Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

Is it safe to swallow pills without water?

March 20, 2019

Is it safe to swallow pills without water?

We’ve all been there: You need to take your medication as soon as possible, but you don’t have immediate access to a glass of water. If you’re in a rush or feeling lazy, it can be tempting to take your pills without water, but experts say this is a bad habit to form.

According to Sheila Rivera, a pharmacist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers, and her pharmacy student, Trexie Olivar, dry swallowing medication can pose a potential choking hazard, and there are other dangers to this practice you might not even realize.

“A pill making contact with the lining of the esophagus — the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach — may cause tissue damage and inflammation,” Olivar says.

This may cause difficulty swallowing, bleeding, heartburn or chest pain, which may lead to more complications if left untreated.

Almost any kind of drug can be harmful if not swallowed correctly, but Olivar says pain-relieving medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen; supplements such as potassium chloride and vitamin C; and some antibiotics are among the worst culprits.

Rivera and Olivar recommend drinking a full 8-ounce glass of water when taking medications. Olivar says a full glass of water is best because taking just one or two sips can also cause harm.

“Not drinking enough water may also cause throat irritation and, in some cases, prevent a medication from working properly,” she says.

Dry swallowing pills isn’t the only common medicine mishap. Rivera shares some other habits that can prevent medication from working properly and offers advice on how you can help correct them.

Always take your medication as directed.
Sometimes it can be difficult to remember to take medication regularly, but skipping days or not taking the full dose can affect the way medication works.

“The best way to remember to take your medication on time is to stay organized,” Rivera says. “Keep your pills in a noticeable place or set reminders on your phone. Find a system that works best for you.”

Take your medication even when you don’t have noticeable symptoms.
Even if your fever or cough subsides, there can still be underlying issues you may not physically feel.

“Continue to take your medicine even if symptoms have improved. This is especially important for medications to help lower blood pressure or treat high cholesterol,” Rivera says.

According to the American Heart Association, many cardiovascular conditions don’t have symptoms that you can identify without a doctor-ordered test or blood pressure reading. Develop the healthy habit of taking your pills as directed until they are done or you are prescribed a refill.

Ask your doctor before taking multiple medications at once.
“Inform your doctor and pharmacist of all the medications you are taking since drug interactions can change the way a medication works. It is important to include both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications so that your pharmacist can advise if there are interactions between them,” Rivera says.

If you have questions about how to take your medications, consult your primary care doctor or a Sharp pharmacist.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us


If this is a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

Find other numbers

View our phone directory

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process hospital price estimates if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

To learn more, call us at 858-499-5901.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.