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How Effective Is Metoclopramide for Nausea?

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  • Written By: B. Chisholm
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2016
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Metoclopramide for nausea is highly effective when used for both treatment of nausea and to prevent nausea, such as in patients having chemotherapy. It is available in various forms, known by different trade names according to country and manufacturer. In some countries it is available by prescription only and in others it can be obtained over-the-counter.

Nausea is the feeling of discomfort in the stomach, or feeling sick, which is often followed by vomiting. Metoclopramide for nausea works on a number of levels. The first is that it blocks dopamine in the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ) of the brain, which is responsible for the vomiting reflex.

Metoclopramide has a direct action on the digestive system, where it tightens the muscles at the top of the stomach, increases muscle action in the stomach, and relaxes the muscles at the end of the stomach. This allows for the stomach contents to move more easily out of the stomach into the intestine. This accounts for the second effect of metoclopramide for nausea, the physical inhibition of vomiting.

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The uses of metoclopramide encompass many forms of nausea. Metoclopramide for nausea induced by anti-cancer drugs is commonly given before the administration of chemotherapy, to prevent it, and after chemotherapy, to treat it. In migraine patients who often struggle with slowed gastric passing, which may worsen the nausea associated with migraine, metoclopramide may be used. It may also be used during radiographical procedures, to allow quick passing of barium through the gut, thus shortening the time needed for the procedure.

As with any drug there are possible side effects of metoclopramide. The more common of these are drowsiness, diarrhea and abnormal movement. Should these be experienced, medical advice should be sought. Due to the possibility of drowsiness after taking metoclopramide for nausea, driving and operating heavy machinery should be avoided while taking it. Alcohol should also be avoided while taking metoclopramide, due to the possibility of increased alcohol absorption and effect.

People with some underlying medical conditions should not take metoclopramide. This should be discussed with the doctor or pharmacist before taking metoclopramide for nausea, as should pregnancy, desired pregnancy and breast feeding. The drug may also interact with other medications, including over-the-counter, homeopathic and complementary treatments and this, too, should be discussed with the health professional before taking metoclopramide. Should vomiting continue despite the use of metoclopramide, medical attention should be urgently sought.

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