Multiple medication routes?
Medications come in pills, patches, topicals, capsules, and liquids. The way medicine is packaged and delivered into the body is called medication routes of administration. Medications can be applied topically on the skin, taken orally, or injected into the body. The purpose behind the route of administration is to find the most effective way to deliver medication to the affected area of the body.
Why are some injectable?
The injectable method of administering medication is called the parenteral route of drugs. When injected, the medication goes directly into the bloodstream and circulatory system. Medicine can be injected anywhere in the body, but these areas are the most common:
- Intravenous (IV)- directly into the veins, i.e., an IV drip
- Intramuscular(IM)- muscle tissue in the buttocks, upper arms, thighs
- Subcutaneous(SQ) or intradermal- fatty tissue underneath the skin of the abdomen, arms, buttocks
The liquid medication combines the active ingredient, which is the medication, with inactive ingredients. By injecting the liquid directly into the muscle, vein, or tissue, the medicine can reach the bloodstream much quicker than in other forms. The drug also bypasses liver metabolism or contact with the gastrointestinal tract, limiting side effects like nausea or vomiting and reinforcing the effectiveness of injection.
Side effects of injecting
Medication should never be injected into an infected or inflamed area of the body. Patients with diseases like muscular atrophy may not have medicines delivered intramuscularly. For subcutaneous injections, dosages under 2 mL are highly recommended. Larger dosages can lead to pain in the affected area or liquid leaking out of the injection site. During the injection or catheter insertion, patients may feel a pinch or slight discomfort which is normal.
Who can administer injectable drugs?
Often, injectable drugs are administered by healthcare staff like doctors and nurses. However, patients can self-administer injectables under the guidance of a physician. Patients can also have a family member, friend, or someone else that a doctor has directed to administer the medication if necessary.
Before injecting the drug, doctors will use a cotton ball or piece of gauze drenched in antiseptic to cleanse the injection site. Then, a syringe or catheter with the medication already filled will be inserted into the area. In some instances, the physician may lay a gauze over the area and place a bandage over the site.
Am I right for injections?
Patients should consult a physician before self-administering any mediation. Doctors can educate patients on the best injection techniques and side effects. Patients can also inquire about auto-injector pens; medical devices made for self-administration. Book an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible to learn more.