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Traditional Oral vs. Sublingual Medications

Amy B. Gragnolati, PharmD, BCPS | Reviewed by Joshua Murdock, PharmD, BCBBS – Updated on February 15, 2023
When you swallow a traditional oral medication, it usually passes through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and liver before reaching your bloodstream. Once it reaches your blood, it can have its desired effect. But there are many factors that can affect how much of an oral medication makes it to your blood, including:

  • Your age
  • Other medical conditions you have
  • The form of traditional oral medication you’re using (such as a tablet, capsule, liquid solution, etc)
  • Whether you’ve recently consumed food or other medications
  • How quickly a medication can move through your GI tract
  • How well your liver works

Sublingual medications, however, get absorbed by the tissue underneath the tongue. The medication then passes into the bloodstream directly. So they’re not affected by the conditions in the GI tract or liver.

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