oral/non-oral or internal/external [medicines]

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, let's say I have a list of over-the-counter medicines written in Japanese that are divided into two groups, and I need to translate the groups' names into English.

The first group includes
pills, powdered medicines, liquid medicines, etc. which you swallow or drink, and the second group includes creams, wet compresses, inhalants, eyedrops, etc.

I can easily translate the first group as
"oral medicines". Is it appropriate to translate the second group as "non-oral medicines"? Or is it better to call the first group "medicines for internal use" and the second group "medicines for external use"? Maybe "medications" is better than "medicines" because some of those in the second group aren't usually called medicines?

(I prefer not to use "drugs", since the list might also be read by BE speakers.)
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Aren't inhalants kind of internal too?

    I suppose "non-oral" is possible, but an easier option, if context allows you to juxtapose the two groups, and there are only two groups, is to call the first group "oral medicines" and the second group "other medicines".
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'For external use' vs 'internal use'? Many creams are used internally as well as suppositories, (which aren't used as much in the UK as they should be).
    I think medicines sounds more internal than medications.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you all very much for the very helpful replies. What I've just learned from the Japanese version of Wikipedia is that the "external medicines" (in Japanese) include all non-oral medicines other than injections. Very strange. So I think I'd call the second group just "non-oral medicines" or "other medicines" (as suggested by Edinburgher), if the list for the second group doesn't include injections.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Look up the word "topical" in this context and see if it might meet your needs.
    :thumbsup:
    In the drug development world, the other category is "systemic"
    Systemic administration - Wikipedia Both quotes from that link:
    Systemic administration is a route of administration of medication, nutrition or other substance into the circulatory system so that the entire body is affected. Administration can take place via enteral * administration (absorption of the drug through the gastrointestinal tract) or parenteral administration (generally injection, infusion, or implantation).
    * This includes oral since absorption is through the gut into the circulation.

    Contrast with topical administration where the effect is generally local.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I suspect that "topical" and "systemic", while familiar to those who feel at home in medical jargon, may well not be understood by the average pleb. Choose your word to suit your intended audience.

    :confused: What was that? Speak up, lad! My hearing ain't what it used to be. Did you say "tropical and systematic medicines"? :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I am reminded of
    Doctor: Did the suppositories work?
    Patient: No, for all the good they did I may as well have stuffed them up my backside!
    Or about contraceptives "The pill doesn't work - it keeps falling out:)"
    I suspect that "topical" and "systemic", while familiar to those who feel at home in medical jargon, may well not be understood by the average pleb. Choose your word to suit your intended audience.

    :confused: What was that? Speak up, lad! My hearing ain't what it used to be. Did you say "tropical and systematic medicines"? :)
    Agreed - if we knew the intended demographic for the OP's question, we could give better answers (hence my comment about drug development world).
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Don't worry. The Japanese term meaning "medicines for external use" isn't widely used either. Besides, I don't think there is a better English term that can be used to describe "all non-oral medicines other than injections".
     
    Last edited:

    weglang

    Member
    Native Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you all very much for the very helpful replies. What I've just learned from the Japanese version of Wikipedia is that the "external medicines" (in Japanese) include all non-oral medicines other than injections. Very strange. So I think I'd call the second group just "non-oral medicines" or "other medicines" (as suggested by Edinburgher), if the list for the second group doesn't include injections.
    oral- the way you apply them through your mouth (or stomach).
    non-oral- the way you apply them other than through your mouth, besides, injections are a way of utilizing medicine far more direct and more effective than through your mouth LOL, thus injections not included in this group.
    as for ex/in ternal: we need to explain external first.
    external- on your skin (outside the frontier of your immune system).
    internal- on any part (tissue) other than your skin.

    Although I'm not majored in Medicine, but I really want to be of help Orz.
     
    Last edited:
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