Take a pill? Take a spray? How You Take Your Medication Is As Important As When.

A woman preparing to take her pill with glass of water.

Do you take your medicine as a pill? Is it injected? Sprayed under your tongue? When you receive your prescription from your doctor and take it to your pharmacist, you will see that your prescription comes with directions on how it should be taken.  It is critical that all prescribed medication not only be taken when prescribed but exactly as directed as well.

The team here at Canada Online Health has put together this quick reference list for you to help you understand some of the keywords used to describe how the medication is to be administered.

buccal – held inside the cheek

enteral – delivered directly into the stomach or intestine (with a G-tube or J-tube)

inhalable – breathed in through a tube or mask

infused – injected into a vein with an IV line and slowly dripped in over time

intramuscular – injected into muscle with a syringe

intravenous – injected into a vein or into an IV line

nasal – given into the nose by spray or pump

ophthalmic – given into the eye by drops, gel, or ointment

oral – taken by mouth as a pill, tablet, capsule, lozenge, or liquid

otic – given by drops into the ear

rectal – inserted into the rectum

subcutaneous – injected into the fat tissue just under the skin

sublingual – held under the tongue

topical- applied to the skin

transdermal -given through an adhesive patch placed on the skin

Arming yourself with information about your medication, what it does,  when to take it and how to take it is an important part of self-care.    As always, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about your concerns or to ask questions about your treatment.  Working together with your doctor will give help reduce your stress and give you peace of mind so you can focus on being well.

If you have questions about your prescription or non-prescription medication, please contact the team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784) or visit their website at https://www.canadaonlinehealth.ca. One of the friendly and discreet pharmacy representatives will be happy to answer your questions.


This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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