What is Nasal Drug Delivery?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Nasal drug delivery is a form of drug administration in which the medication is introduced through the nose. This form of drug delivery can be used for a wide variety of medications, and some drugs come available in nasal forms for patients and care providers who prefer nasal administration. This method is not suitable for all types of drugs, but it can be easier and more comfortable for patients when it is an option.

Nasal sprays are sometimes used to deliver drugs into the body.
Nasal sprays are sometimes used to deliver drugs into the body.

In nasal drug delivery, the drug is introduced to the nose in the form of a spray. The sprayer is disposable or sterilizable to reduce the risk of spreading infection between patients, and sometimes comes in the form of a packaged unit with a single dose which can be discarded after use.

Gargling with warm water after using nasal drugs can rinse away an unpleasant aftertaste.
Gargling with warm water after using nasal drugs can rinse away an unpleasant aftertaste.

Some drugs intended for inhalation can be introduced through the nose. This may also be done when an accessible oral airway is not available and a patient needs inhalation drugs which can be administered through a nasal airway. Nasal drug delivery can also be used for drugs which are intended to cross over the nasal membrane, absorbing into the body.

Medications are not the only things which can be administered through the nose. Nasal vaccines are used in many parts of the world for mass vaccination campaigns, as nasal vaccines can be safer and easier to administer. Many nasal vaccines use live viruses, which means that people should be careful when receiving them as people with medical issues may not be good candidates for vaccination with attenuated vaccines. For things like mass immunization of populations such as children, however, nasal vaccines are extremely useful.

When a drug is packaged for nasal drug delivery for home or self administration, the packaging usually includes clear directions so that the patient can administer the drug correctly. A doctor may also go over the procedure, showing the patient what to do so that she or he feel confident and to confirm that the drug will be used as directed.

In some cases, people can experience a bitter taste or oily texture in their mouths after nasal drug delivery, because some of the spray may trickle down the airway and into the mouth. This is not a cause for concern, although if it becomes extremely unpleasant, it may be advisable to gargle with a warm water rinse to flush the taste out of the mouth, or to alert a care provider to the fact that something does not feel right.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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