More Medication Routes

Different Medication Routes

Mouth (orally)

Oral medication is taken by mouth and is swallowed or placed under the tongue (Sublingual) or in the pocket between the cheek and teeth. (Buccal) or inhaled. Inhalation medications.

Drugs used for inhalation therapy are always water soluble to ensure quick absorption into the respiratory system without creating tissue inflammation. Various mechanical devices are designed for aerosol treatment, such as atomizers, sprays, and handheld metered-dose inhalers.

Eye (Optical)

Ophthalmic (eye) medication may be in the form of drops, ointment, or an eye disk.

Note: an error with an eye medication can cause significant damage, and it is imperative to check each medication very carefully before instilling it. The word ophthalmic must be visible on the medication container and the medication must be in date.

Ear Drop = Ear

Otic (ear): usually only comes in drop form.

Nose Nasal

Nasal medications come in soft plastic atomizer or dropper bottles. An atomizer bottle contains decongestant, antihistamine, antibiotic, or steroid, depending on the patients need.

Skin Topical

Topical medications can be applied to the skin. Types include topical medications include: lotions, ointments, creams, and patches. Rubbing into skin are ointments, oils, lotions, and creams. Trans dermal (through the skin) medications are supplied in a sustained-released patch that is applied to clean, dry, hairless skin and left in place, or as a paste that is spread on a small area of skin and absorbed into the blood stream.

Several types of drugs are now available in skin patch form; nitroglycerin, scopolamine, estrogen, fentanyl.

Injection = subcutaneous

This involves administration of the drug dose just under the skin. An example would be an injection of insulin.


Used in administering fluids or medicines directly into the veins.

Not allowed in a non medical setting.

Suppositories = Vaginal and rectal medications

Small dissolvable medicated solid that melts at body temperature, designed to be inserted into the rectum and vagina. Suppositories are an invasive procedure and will only be performed by an appropriate skilled professional.

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