Oral Route

Oral medications are in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquids and most are absorbed in the small intestine and have a peak time of between 1 and 3 hours. Tablets can be divided using a tablet cutter into half or quarters to reduce the dosage that is given to the patient. Some tablets can also be crushed so that the medication can be mixed with food such as applesauce. Capsules must be taken whole because they are enteric-coated so that the medication isn't released until it reaches the intestines. Some capsules contain timed-release medication.

Here are the precautions that must be taken when the oral route is prescribed.

• No oral medication is given to patients who are vomiting, who lack a gag reflex, or who are in an unresponsive state.

• Do not mix oral medication with large amounts of food or liquid because it can alter the effectiveness of the medication. Food and liquid might interfere with the patient's ability to absorb the medication depending on the drug. In that case medication should be given while the patient's stomach is empty.

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