How To Administer Drugs Through Inhalation-globalpint


How To Administer Drugs Through Inhalation.

There are circumstances that will lead to the administering of drugs through inhalation, oxygen and even enemata. The drug is in form of vapour and is inhaled into the respiratory tract. The situations or circumstances that can lead to this are:

  • To loosen secretions and also relieve pain due to coughing.
  • To treat inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract such as sinusitis and laryngitis.
  • To produce anaesthesia.

Coming to the types of inhalations which are generally used are:

1.  The Dry Inhalation.

2.  The Moist Inhalation.



The Burney Yeo inhaler can be used which consists of a perforated zinc portion that is shaped like a mask, which fits over the patients nose and mouth; it is attached with an elastic bands behind the ears. A small sponge is situated in the inhaler into which the drug is dropped. The drugs which may be administered with this method are eucalyptus, oil of pine, tincture of benzoin compound and creosote.

A volatile  drug is dropped on a piece of material or lint and the vapour given off is inhaled. For example : amyl nitrite which is given in a condition known as angina pectoris or chloroform and ether which are given as general anaesthetics when operating theatre facilities are not available.

A spray (aerosol) inhaler can be used, the drug is in a sealed cylinderical container and the size of the dose to be release is fixed by the manufacturer. The container is placed in a dispenser and the patient is instructed to close his lips over the mouthpiece, press the release button and breathe in deeply. Now the patient should hold his breath for as long as possible to give time for the drug to be absorbed. The patient should also be warned not to exceed the the proscribed dose. This is a convenient type of inhaler for patient to carry with them. For example asthmatics using corticosteroids and migraine sufferers using ergotamine tartrate.



In this case, a volatile drug is added to water at a temperature of 70 degree centigrade (158 degree F) the following are examples of such drugs are:

  • Tincture of benzoin compound ( 7 grams of the drug is used to one litre of water)
  • Menthol crystals ( 1 litre of water is poured into the inhaler,then three to five crystals are added)
  • Oil of eucalyptus ( 1.5 to 3 ml of the drug are added to a litre of water. Here also the drug is put into the inhaler before the water.

Two different types of apparatus which may be used in moist inhalations are:

1.   Nelson Inhaler

2.   Jug Inhalation


Nelson inhaler

This is the type inhaler is most commonly used in the hospital for the treatment of laryngitis and tracheitis. The following below are the methods of administering moist inhalation.

1.  The bed is screened if the patient desires privacy and the procedure explained to the patient. The patient is assisted into a sitting up position and the pillows arranged comfortably.

2.  The inhaler is warmed and wrapped in its flannel cover and placed in the bowl.

3.  One pint of water at a temperature of 70 degrees centigrade is poured into the jug.

4.  Place the jug of water and the bowl with the inhaler on the tray and carry it to the bedside.

5.  Pour the water into the inhaler. It is essential that the water level is not above that of the air inlet.

6.  Hand the inhaler in the bowl to the patient with the air inlet pointing away from the patient and tell the person to place his or her lips lightly over the protected mouthpiece and breathe steadily through his or her mouth.

7.  Allow the patient to inhale for five to ten minutes then remove the apparatus. Rearrange the pillows and leave the patient comfortable.

There are certain set of people who are not suppose to be left alone with the inhalation; they are: An hysterical person(someone who always get affected by emotions), Children, Old people, Someone who is mentally unbalanced or confused.

If tincture benzoin compound or oil of eucalyptus is used, it will be ok to put a small amount of hot water then the drug. Then the rest of the hot water in the inhaler, menthol crystals may be added after the hot water.

After using, the mouthpiece should be rinsed in cold water, washed in warm soapy water, rinsed again, then sterilised either by boiling in water or autoclaved.

The inhaler should be washed in warm soapy water and if stained with tincture of benzoin compound, methylated spirit can be used to remove the stains. The teaspoon used to measure the drug may be cleaned in the same way.



This is the type of inhalation used in the treatment of sinusitis and certain conditions of the nose. This type can be easily used at home.

Things needed for jug inhalation

1.  A litre jug

2.  A piece of old blanket and safety pins.

3.  A bowl for holding the jug

4.  The prescribed drug

5.  A teaspoon in a receiver

6.  A bath towel

7.  A lotion thermometer


method of administration

1.  The tray is taken to the bedside with the jug wrapped in a piece of blanket, it should only be three quarters full of water at a temperature of 70 degrees centigrade.

2.  Place the jug with the water in the bowl and give this to the person, asking him or her to bend his or her head over it so that he or she can inhale the medicated vapour. If used for nasal congestion, tell the person to breath in through the nose. It may be easier for him or her to breathe out through the mouth.

3.  Place the bath towel over the person’s head to form a canopy under which the medicated vapour will be collected.

4.  The ordered drug is put into the water in the same way as before.

When you are done using the jug, the jug should be rinsed with cold water, washed in hot soapy water and if necessary, you can as well use some methylated spirit  to remove the stains then rinse again in cold water.


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