Patients, whether on a maintenance dose, receiving a short term or even single use treatment or simply receiving nutritional supplements, can receive drugs and vitamins in a multitude of ways. Some treatments are more or less suited to different delivery methods, and learning how to prep these methods is an important component of pharmaceutical training. Anything used for a medical process is subject to strict pharmaceutical quality assurance.
Inter-Venous or Subcutaneous
The easiest way to introduce a chemical compound directly into the patient's blood supply is through an injection directly into a vein or at least into a large muscle group. This can be through a hypodermic syringe or through an ongoing drip. This is also optimal to nourish and rehydrate severely ill patients who may have eating impaired, and also allows the rapid introduction of drugs in an emergency situation. For example, an allergy-sufferer going into anaphylactic shock or a person receiving an emergency tetanus vaccine both benefit from a rapid injection into the thigh. Some medications, such as timed release contraceptive implants, are inserted under the skin.
Asthma inhalers and other respiratory treatments may be delivered directly to source. The nose, mouth and throat, on the interior, are coated with mucus membranes which are more permeable to substances than regular skin, but also the lungs are designed specifically to introduce things directly into the bloodstream. Inhibition of breathing functions makes this method less than ideal for most substances.
Dermal refers to the skin. For the most part, dermal delivery is limited to very few drugs unless it is through a mucus membrane. However analgesics, contraceptives and nicotine for smoking cessation may be applied via an adhesive patch or ointment. Drugs and vaccines may also be blasted through the skin if the substance is small enough, but this is not a popular method.
Most people think about pills when they picture drugs or vitamins. Oral dosage can also be in the form of syrups or other liquids, and even candy, either gummy vitamins or sweetened cough drops. To promote consumption a variety of medicines are flavoured or coated. Fast dissolving gel capsules allow for very rapid delivery and a great deal of control over dose, but pills may be made of pressed powder lozenges. Some drugs need to be taken with food, and most solid medicines benefit from being taken alongside fluids to prevent them from sticking in the throat.
Some medicines or nutritional supplements may be delivered via teas or enriched foods. Milk is commonly given added vitamin D, while salt is iodized. If food is being used as part of a therapeutic treatment this means both pharmaceutical training and food safety certification.