Medicine:Oral administration

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Short description: Route of administration where a substance is taken through the mouth
Oral administration
Oral administration.jpg
Oral administration of a tablet
Other namesBy mouth, per os (PO)
A health professional demonstrates how to offer oral medication to a dummy.
Oral administration of a liquid

Oral administration is a route of administration where a substance is taken through the mouth. Per os abbreviated to P.O. is sometimes used as a direction for medication to be taken orally. Many medications are taken orally because they are intended to have a systemic effect, reaching different parts of the body via the bloodstream, for example.[1]


Per os (/ˌpɜːrˈs/; P.O.) is an adverbial phrase meaning literally from Latin "through the mouth" or "by mouth". The expression is used in medicine to describe a treatment that is taken orally (but not used in the mouth such as, for example, caries prophylaxis).[2] The abbreviation P.O. is often used on medical prescriptions.


Oral administration includes:

Enteral medications come in various forms, including[1] oral solid dosage (OSD) forms:[3]

  • Tablets to swallow, chew or dissolve in water or under the tongue
  • Capsules and chewable capsules (with a coating that dissolves in the stomach or bowel to release the medication there)
  • Time-release or sustained-release tablets and capsules (which release the medication gradually)
  • Powders or granules

and oral liquid dosage forms:[4]

  • Teas
  • Drops
  • Liquid medications or syrups

Facilitating methods

Concomitant ingestion of water facilitates in swallowing tablets and capsules.[5] If the substance has disagreeable taste, addition of a flavor may facilitate ingestion.[5] Substances that are harmful to the teeth are preferably given through a straw.[5]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. "Oral medications". Informed Health Online. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 
  2. (in de) Hunnius Pharmazeutisches Wörterbuch (8th ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. p. 1048. ISBN 3-11-015793-4. 
  3. Jacobs, Terry; Signore, Andrew A. (2016-08-19) (in en). Good Design Practices for GMP Pharmaceutical Facilities. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4822-5891-2. 
  4. McCabe-Sellers, Beverly; Frankel, Eric H.; Wolfe, Jonathan J. (2003-04-29) (in en). Handbook of Food-Drug Interactions. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-203-49024-2. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 TheFreeDictionary > oral administration of medication Citing: Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. 2009