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What is Meclizine?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Meclizine is a medication a doctor may prescribe to treat nausea caused by vertigo and motion sickness. It is taken on an as-needed basis to address nausea, limiting or preventing vomiting when a patient takes the medication as directed. Pharmacies usually maintain stocks of this drug and can fill prescriptions on the same day, except in special circumstances. Patients concerned about motion sickness can talk to their doctors to see if meclizine is appropriate for their needs.

This medication appears to suppress the activity of neurotransmitters that cause nausea. It also interacts with the vestibular system in the ear, the cause behind nausea in people with vertigo and motion sickness. For motion sickness, patients take the drug around an hour before traveling, and can take it again if the trip lasts more than 24 hours. For vertigo, a doctor will provide specific instructions on how the patient should use the medication.

Common meclizine side effects include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision. Patients who have not taken the medication before should not operate heavy machinery until they know how the medication affects them. Some patients remain alert, aware, and capable of complex tasks, while others may fall asleep or feel sluggish on the drug. If nausea persists even after taking meclizine, patients can discuss the situation with their doctors to see if they need further evaluation or a different medication.

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A doctor will usually offer a prescription medication for nausea after a patient has tried more conservative means for managing it, including natural and over-the-counter remedies. In patients who have severe motion sickness or vertigo, these measures are usually not effective, or do not suppress vomiting enough to make the patient feel comfortable. Meclizine and other prescription drugs for nausea offer more aggressive management and can prevent complications like dehydration associated with excessive vomiting.

Rarely, patients have an allergic reaction to meclizine. If a patient notices numbness and tingling around the mouth along with symptoms like rashes, difficulty breathing, and changes in the heart rate after taking the medication, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor can evaluate the patient, determine if any interventions are needed, and make a note of the allergy so the drug will not be prescribed in the future. Patients with a history of allergic reactions to meclizine should make sure to discuss this with their doctors when options for managing nausea are evaluated.

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