How do I choose a medicine to treat nausea?

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Patricia Raymond, MD
Gastroenterology
Here are some of the common anti-emetic drugs you may encounter:

- Phenergan (Promethazine). Used for motion sickness, post-op nausea, antihistamine effect for allergies; do not use for anyone younger than 2 years old, pregnant (category C), or who has seizures (use with caution, may reduce seizure threshold); side effects may include drowsiness, changes in blood pressure (high and low), and various mild effects. I use it because it's available as a suppository and is great if you’re vomiting a lot and can’t keep oral meds down.

- Zofran (Ondansetron). Used for vomiting from chemo or radiation and post-op nausea; side effects include headache, malaise, constipation, and diarrhea. I use it because it's okay to use in pregnancy (category B) and is super in chemo-induced nausea.

- Compazine (Prochlorperazine). Used for post-op nausea, anxiety, and schizophrenia; do not use for anyone younger than 2 years old and the pregnancy category is unknown; side effects include drowsiness, hypotension, and dystonias (extreme muscle spasms). I use it because it has a rectal form and the anti-anxiety effect may be useful.

- Antivert, Transderm Scop (Meclizine). Used for motion sickness and vertigo; do not use while driving, operating heavy machinery, or drinking or in anyone younger than 12 years old or who has glaucoma; side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and difficult urination. I use it because it's okay in pregnancy (category B or Antivert, C for Transderm) and a skin patch with three-day release is available for motion sickness.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.