Chapter 4: Administering meds

Giving medications through the nose

He took his medication himself for as long as he could. I just stayed close by in case he needed me. I’d prepare the medication and then wash out the atomizer, but that was it for a long time.The person’s healthcare provider or pharmacist may suggest giving a medication through

a device that creates a fine mist


One device that can be used is called a mucosal administration device (MAD).



in the nose. The medication is then absorbed through the lining of the nose and circulated through the body. Some benefits of this method are that it is generally easy to use, and medications start working a short time after the dose is given.

Generally, about 1 millilitre (1cc) of medication can be given into a nostril at a time. If the person needs a larger amount, it can be divided into two doses, each given in a separate nostril. Some medications may irritate the lining of the nose and may not be well suited to this method. If many medications are required, only some of them may be administered through the nose.

Below are the steps for administering medication through the nose. Click on each title below to see a list of the steps.

1. Attach the atomizer to the syringe.

2. Tilt the person’s head back slightly, or have them lie flat.

3. Place the tip of the atomizer into a nostril and quickly depress the plunger.

4. Remind the patient not to pinch the other nostril and not to inhale while the medication is being given.

Watch the video for a demonstration and for more tips on giving medications through the nose.

Helpful resources