Drugs and medicines are needed to treat diseases and improve our health. Almost all of us need to use them at some point in our lives. While some of us need to take them every day, others only need to take them every so often. Either way, we must ensure that the medicines we take are safe and effective. As well as this, it’s also a good idea to understand how these drugs work in our bodies.
Drugs usually undergo four stages within the body. This includes absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. Keep reading below to find out more about the four stages:
Once we administer a drug, it is absorbed into the bloodstream. There are several ways drugs can be administered, including:
- Orally – oral administration includes drinking a liquid, eating a substance, or swallowing a pill. When a drug is administered this way, most of the absorption of the drug occurs in the small intestine. After this, the drug will move to the liver before heading to the bloodstream to be transported to its destination.
- IV injection – this type of administration delivers the drug straight into the bloodstream. Unlike orally administered drugs, drugs administered by IV will be 100% absorbed.
- Subcutaneous injection – a subcutaneous injection is administered into fatty tissue. This type of administration allows the substance to move to the lymphatic vessels or the capillaries and into the bloodstream.
- Transdermal administration – transdermal administration is usually done with a patch on the skin.
- Inhalation – smoke or vapor is breathed into the lungs before being absorbed.
- Snorting – drugs that are snorted are absorbed through nasal tissue.
The second stage of the process is distribution. This is when the drug is carried through the body by the bloodstream to the tissues before binding to the receptors. It is often during this stage that any unintended side effects of a drug occur. This is because, as the drug travels around the body, it not only affects the intended organ, but it can also impact other organs. Because of this, scientists, such as those at Hera BioLabs, are looking for better ways to transport human medicines and cells around the body.
Once a drug has been distributed around the body, the next step is metabolism. This usually takes place in the liver. During this stage, the medicine is broken down by enzymes. This process makes it easier for the drug to pass out of the body.
Once the drug has been metabolized, it is then excreted. This means it is removed from the body through feces or urine. Other ways we excrete drugs include breast milk, saliva, exhaled air, or sweat.
Medication, when used properly, is fantastic. Not only can it help to treat disease, but it can also help to diagnose, prevent or even cure disease. However, while this may be true, very few people understand how drugs are produced or how they work once we swallow them. Ensure you understand this before taking medication to prevent, treat, or cure a condition.