The inside track . . . on suppositories

I'm a partner in a network of multilingual doctors in the Côte d'Azur. Roughly half my patients are foreigners and some of them are quite surprised when I prescribe suppositories. It's not something they've encountered before and the means of introduction, if I can call it that, takes some explaining. A few patients actually swallow them.

I've heard it said that French doctors love to prescribe suppositories. That's not really true, though each nation has its quirks. They are extremely useful in certain circumstance: for example, for old people who are already swallowing a large number of pills or capsules and don't need their stomachs placed under more strain. The alternative would be to have a nurse visit them and give them daily injections, but this isn't always easy to arrange.

Suppositories are also useful for babies who can't easily be given medicines by mouth, or for adults who are having trouble keeping anything down. Often if I am called out to someone who is vomiting I'll give them an injection immediately and prescribe suppositories to be taken in the event of a relapse.

Suppositories allow us to rapidly deliver the active ingredient. The rectum is rich in blood vessels. Yes, some people find it bizarre. You'll never convince them to put medicine up their bottom. I'm happy to suggest alternatives, such as Lycos, which dissolve rapidly in the mouth and largely bypass the stomach. But it would be a shame if we lost this valuable treatment.

Dr Didonna is a partner in the Riviera Medical Service.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.