The most common method of administering medicine is orally, known as the enteral route. This can be done in the form of either tablets, syrups, capsules, emulsions or powders.
The oral route goes through the GI tract, starting by taking the medicine via the mouth. This is the most convenient route, and as there is no equipment required, it therefore usually the cheapest method. It is easy to monitor the amount of medicine taken as the tablets are manufactured to supply a standardised measured amount. However, this method cannot be used in emergencies as the absorption rate is very slow, due to the time it takes for the body to digest the tablets. A smaller amount of the drug normally reaches its target because of the digestion process, too. If a patient is unable to eat or swallow anything, it is unsuitable and a different approach is needed.
The next administration option is the sublingual / buccal route. This is when the tablets are placed under the tongue or between the patient’s cheek and gum, where it dissolves into the blood stream. It can also come in a form of spray. The benefits of this route is that the drug enters into the blood directly, and much faster, bypassing digestion and speeding up uptake. Avoiding the digestive system also means that more of the drug will be absorbed. Sometimes the patient may accidentally swallow the tablet, making it ineffective. They tablets can also sometimes taste unpleasant and occasionally cause irritation. The tablets must be small enough to fit in the mouth, and can't take too long to dissolve.
Finally, there is the rectal route which is generally the least popular method of enteral administation. Drugs adminstered this way can be suppositories that are inserted into the rectum directly, or available as liquid enemas. They are normally used for conditions affecting the rectum or lower digestive tract, or for giving medicine to older patients. They are useful for unconscious patients too, and don’t cause side effects such as nausea or vomiting.
Digestive System related AnatomyStuff resources