Taking pills the easy way

I made a video with plans to add it to the  New to the Tube? section (found in the  menu on the top of every page).  But, I wanted to add captions to the video, and I’ve still not quite figured this part out yet.  So, in the meanwhile, here is a short post on the subject, along with the video.

Most of you already know how to handle getting your supplements and medications through your tube, and may have ideas I’ve not even considered.  But, like I said above, I made the video with the intention of adding it to the section for those just starting out on their g tube adventure.

Syringe tips are pretty much the same size, according to their shape classification, regardless of the syringe capacity.  Therefore, (for example) a regular tip, (also called a slip tip)  on a 10 mL is not very different from one on a 60 mL.  It seems like its the brand that determines the exact shape of a syringe tip type, not the volume of the syringe.

This photo shows two slip/regular  tip syringes, an empty 60 mL, and a 10 mL which contains the dissolved ibuprofen from the little demo video. Notice how even though the one syringe holds six times more, the tip on it is the same diameter and length as the smaller syringe. The tips are shaped a little different as the syringes are not by the same manufacturer.

If you have an AMT  Mini One, you can inject directly into the button with a slip tip syringe.  The manufacturer clearly states  in the literature that this is an acceptable means of administering medication.

If you have another type of button, such as a Mic-Key, and you inject directly into it, the anti-backflow valve of the device will fail very quickly.  This damages the button, so don’t do it!   Only inject into buttons that the  manufacturer states this is fine to do.

So, for the many tubies who don’t have an AMT Mini One, what are good options?

For button tubes, there are 2″ extension sets sold for administering medications, or, you can just use a regular extension set. (See more in the next paragraph for the dangler tubies.)

2″ medication extension set

For the danglers out there, another choice other than using the 60 mL oral/catheter tip syringes is to use a smaller luer tip syringe.  This might be more convenient for you.


Syringe on left has a regular slip tip, syringe on right has luer lock tip which will fit into the “funnel” end of dangler tubes, as well as legacy extension sets. Not compatible with EnFit

Regardless of what kind syringe or container you put the pill into, most will dissolve pretty quickly in water without being crushed.  A 5 mL syringe might not have enough volume capacity to dissolve a large tablet such as one of those “horse pill” type multivitamins.  I eventually got away from using 5 mLs, and just keep 10 mL and 20 mL on hand.

For time release capsules, (the type that have the grains or tiny balls in them) you can empty the capsule into a syringe and just fill with water before taking the dose.  Don’t add water ahead of time.

Using tablets and capsules dissolved it water oftentimes is easier than getting oral suspensions mixed up at the pharmacy.  There will be less volume, because the liquid suspensions have added flavoring and sweeteners added to make it palatable.  Most of the time the oral suspensions need to be kept refrigerated too, which is another reason to consider just dissolving any tablets or pills you take. Nothing like going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription that is supposedly “ready” only to find that they have to wait until you physically show up to mix the oral  suspension into water, and therefore “ready” means you get to wait at the pharmacy for a while.

The first photograph in this post shows dissolved ibuprofen tablets. I took that  picture about 10 minutes after I put the tablets into the syringe for the video demo.   Most tablets don’t take long.  The exception is the  gel cap form of pill.  I’ve learned to avoid this version of supplement, pain reliever, etc.

The  following video shows me first adding two ibuprofen tablets  to a 10 mL slip tip syringe.  I point out how it will fit into the button port (but I use a Mic-Key for the demo, which is a no-no.  Only inject into an AMT Mini One as far as I know) And, of course, wait until whatever you’re using is completely dissolved.  You can see that the tablets are already starting to disintegrate  in the water after I shake the syringe.

Next segment shows adding contents of a time release capsule into a 20 mL luer tip syringe. I demonstrate with a spare dangler g-tube.  The luer tip syringe fits into just the regular food port.  Having that side “Y” port is such an accident waiting to happen!

This is not the most professional quality video (stating the obvious!)  I drop a syringe right at the start of it, and also have a hard time keeping the action centered where the camera  (aka iPhone) is aimed.  That has to do with my “cameraman” being  a clamp on gooseneck attached to the door of our toaster oven 🙂

This entire post is only about the mechanics of getting the meds or supplements into the stomach.  Any drug interaction, with food, without food, etc etc is something to clarify with you healthcare provider.

And, if you have a pill that does not dissolve after it has sat in water for a while, check to see if it is enteric coated.  Enteric coated pills must not be crushed and dissolved.  Talk to your healthcare provider if this is a type of pill you need to take, but are unable to  swallow.

Always flush well with water after putting anything through your g tube.


Please leave any questions and comments below, and me know if this is useful.