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What Is Meclizine HCl?

Patients who take meclizine HCL may experience a dry throat or dry mouth.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 11 March 2014
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Meclizine hydrochloride (HCl) is an antihistamine most often used in the treatment of motion sickness or dizziness. It appears to be effective against treating nausea that may accompany these conditions and is noted for its antiemetic properties. Commonly, this medicine is sold over the counter, but occasionally stronger doses are recommended. Meclizine has few minor or serious side effects, but it can interact with other drugs or substances.

Antihistamines can be good antiemetics because they influence the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting. This is useful for patients with an increased risk of vomiting, such as those with motion sickness or conditions like labyrinthitis, which causes dizziness and vertigo. Meclizine HCl has been shown to have very low risks for pregnant women, so it may also be prescribed to treat severe vomiting during the early parts of pregnancy.

In many cases, doctors merely recommend patients pick up this medication from a local store. It may be sold under different brand names, and people may find it in a regular or chewable tablet form. Sometimes a higher than standard dose is warranted. In such cases, physicians might instruct patients to take more than the recommended dose, or prescribe a stronger pill.

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Generally, people should not exceed the maximum recommended amount, 25-50 milligrams (mg) per day. Also, the drug is usually not advised for children under the age of 12. Patients who are experiencing any other health condition of note should also talk to their doctors before taking it.

The principal side effects associated with meclizine HCl are dry mouth and sleepiness. Other reported minor reactions include dry throat and eyes. A few people taking meclizine develop constipation or blurred vision. Since this medication can cause drowsiness, patients should not use it when they plan to operate motor vehicles or other machinery.

One severe side effect that might occur with meclizine HCl is extreme allergic reaction. Signs of this are difficulty breathing, hives and swelling of the face, tongue, and lips. While this adverse effect is rare, it is extremely dangerous. People need emergency medical help if they experience this reaction.

Since meclizine HCl can cause drowsiness, substances like alcohol don’t mix well with it. They can cause enhanced sedation or might result in more symptoms of drunkenness with less alcohol consumed. Similarly, when meclizine is combined with other drugs like pain relievers, tranquilizers, barbiturates, and many psychoactive medications, the result is greater sedation. To avoid this effect and any other possible drug interactions, prior to using meclizine HCl, patients should talk to doctors or pharmacists about the medications they are already taking.

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