At a certain period in time, you have been placed on medications for one reason or another. Maybe during a bout of a hard pounding headache, malaria or any common illness.
Every advice given to you by your physician should be taken seriously. Having a basic understanding of how medicines work in the body will be of great help to you.
Researchers have been able to summarize the procedures in which a medicine taken into the body follows. These steps includes: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion. They are abbreviated as ADME for convenience.
Absorption: how medicines get into your body is covered by absorption. The choice of how certain medicines are to be administered depends on factors like Convenience, Desired rapidity and duration of action, Availability of sterile preparations, Medicine's solubility, Absorption characteristics of the medicine and Onset of action.
The most widely use means of medicine administration is oral ingestion (through the mouth). Other routes include
- Injection which could be intravenous (direct injection into the veins), subcutaneous (injection beneath the skin), Intramuscular (direct injection into a muscle), Intra-arterial (direct injection into an artery), Intrathecal -direct injection into the spinal subarachnoid space (membrane covering the brain and spinal cord) and Intraperitoneal (direct injection into the peritoneal cavity).
- Topical application by rubbing on the skin or affected area.
- Sublingual administration (oral mucosa)
- Absorption from the oral mucosa (under the tongue)
- Rectal administration and pulmonary administration.
Distribution: once the absorption is accomplished, the medicine now has to be transported through the bloodstream to where it can take action
Metabolism: just like the food you take into the body, the medicine also has to be metabolized normally at the liver. Every substance carried in the bloodstream has to pass through the liver where detoxification and breakdown occurs.
Excretion: when the medicines have fully achieved its goal, it’s now ready to leave the body system.
Being conversant with the ways medicines work in the body, we can now proceed to find out the reason while you shouldn't lie down after swallowing a tablet.
Let’s use a simple analogy. Imagine that you filled up two bottles connected to a pipe with water, you then placed one of the bottles horizontally while the other one is placed vertically downward. The observation will be that the bottle placed horizontally will likely pour out less water whereas, the other bottle placed vertically downwards will pour out much water.
This same analogy can be applied to the flow or movement of medicines down the oesophagus. When you lie down after swallowing a tablet, the rate at which the medicine moves down the oesophagus will be slowed down because of the less influence of gravity.
The slow movement of the medicine down the oesophagus also implies that the time at which the medicine could have taken to reach the action site will be increased and this will also mean that the actual time it could have taken for the medicine to metabolize and lash out its effect will also be increased.
This might make you think that the medicine is not working which isn’t true.
There is also a possibility that the tablet might stick to the sides of the oesophagus which is dangerous for certain medicines with adverse affects that are prone to the gullet area. In such a situation in which the tablet sticks to the side of the oesophagus, there might be some irritation depending on the tablet you took and possibly nausea (the feeling of throwing up) and if you get to throw up, you waste that particular medicine.