Typically, a pharmacist can advise patients on the best way to take a specific drug.
There are many different ways to take medicine, although most may be familiar with just a few of them. It is common to swallow a pill or take some liquid medication, but taking medication by mouth is not always practical or the best way to administer a medication. To this end, medical researchers have developed some methods of taking medications for a variety of purposes.
A woman applying a topical cream.
For many over-the-counter drugs, it is more common to take drugs by mouth. Oral medications can come in many forms, including different types of pills and liquids. Newer methods that are taken orally but not swallowed whole are various melt-in-the-mouth remedies that can be absorbed by the tissues of the mouth and not processed by the stomach. Sometimes medications work faster and are more effective if they don’t have to go through the intestines first.
The medication usually comes in capsule form.
Sometimes a common drug that people take by mouth needs a different delivery system. Vomiting with fever, for example, could mean that a person is unable to keep the fever reducer down or needs anti-vomiting medication. Several drugs are taken anally, through a suppository. Although many people do not mind suppository medication, it can be a good alternative when oral medications cannot be tolerated.
Drugs given intravenously are rapidly dispersed through the patient’s bloodstream.
There are several lotions and creams that are called topicals. They are usually applied directly to the area that needs the medication. For example, certain steroids and other anti-itch medications are impractical if taken by mouth and need to be applied directly to the area that needs treatment. While skin problems occasionally require oral medications, in many cases topical treatments are sufficient to resolve the problem.
A topical analgesic spray is a pain reliever delivered by a pump or pressurized container.
Another way to take medicine is through a patch on the skin. This is called the transdermal method. A multi-drug patch is absorbed directly through the skin. Some forms of transdermal medications include pain relievers, nicotine for those who are quitting smoking, and birth control.
Some people take medication by inhalation. Common inhaled medications include those that treat asthma. Some development in this area by researchers may make other drugs available by inhalation, including the insulin used to treat diabetes. While many of these medications are inhaled through the mouth, others can be inhaled through the nose. There are a number of allergy medications that are taken via the nose, and there are few nasal sprays to treat things like low milk intake in mothers of babies.
Transdermal patches can be used to administer medication.
One of the most common and quickest ways to take medicine usually requires the help of a doctor or nurse. The medication can be administered intravenously (IV) or by infusion. Intravenous drugs go directly into the bloodstream, which can make them work quickly and be more effective. Injections or shots are another way to take medication and can be injected into the muscles, under the skin, directly into the bone marrow or into the bloodstream.
Suppositories are a common way of taking medication for those who cannot tolerate oral methods.
The various drug delivery systems can make it easier for people to take drugs in a way that is well tolerated. Regardless of the method used to take the medication, the doctor’s instructions or instructions for over-the-counter medications should be followed closely. When in doubt about how to take medications through the various methods of administration, ask a doctor or pharmacist for clarification before using them.