Pill It Dissolve?
Helen Su, Ivy Liao
Britannia Secondary
Floor Location : M 091 H

As the hectic world nowadays races on, people seem to want fast relief from a wide range of bodily ailments they have to face on a day to day basis. One common way they try to achieve this is by taking medication in the form of pills. But how long do the various classes of pills actually take to dissolve into the digestive system?
This project looks at three classes of pills, which are antacids, anti-inflammatory pills, and allergy pills, and how long they take to dissolve compared to one another. Two different brands of pills were taken from each class; Tums and Rolaids as the antacids, Advil and Tylenol as the anti-inflammatory pills, and Claritin and Exact as the allergy medication. The pills were tested in beakers filled with 40 mL of 0.5M hydrochloric acid and timed until there were no large visible clumps left in the solution. The pills were placed similarly in distilled water as the control.
The hypothesis of the project was that the antacids would dissolve first in the acid, followed by the anti-inflammatory pills and finally the allergy medication because it was thought that the rate the classes of pills would dissolve would correspond to the usage of the pill. Antacids are typically used for quick relief from heartburn and other symptoms of extra gas, allergy medication is used to combat allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and sneezing, and anti-inflammatory pills are used to reduce swelling and for fever and headache relief.
The experiment results showed that our hypothesis was only partially correct; the Tums dissolved first, with an average of 8 minutes and three seconds, followed by the Exact, Advil, Claritin, and finally, Tylenol. The antacid pills from the brand Rolaids did not dissolve at all. Also, in the control where the pills were placed in water, the Rolaids once again did not dissolve, even though the Tums and all the other pills except for the Claritin allergy pills did. However, this time the Tums broke down the slowest, while the Exact allergy pills dissolved first, followed by the Advil and the Tylenol.
It was concluded that these results occurred because the pills that did not dissolve were possibly originally intended to break down in a stronger acid, or along with the physical contact that the muscles in the stomach and esophagus would create, as many of the pills contained ingredients that were poorly water soluble. The other pills that dissolved in the order as the hypothesis predicted were probably designed to break down right as the pill reached the stomach and not before that, which makes sense because of their intended uses.
This science fair project can be applied to daily life because knowing what types of medication effectively works in one’s system can really help the body recover quickly while saving money as well. This experiment suggests that all the pills that were tested are effective in doing their jobs and that they offer fast relief.