Domperidone is a medication available in many countries that may be used to treat extreme nausea, conditions where people have motility disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (reflux disease, diarrhea, constipation and a variety of others) or the drug can be used as lactation stimulant. Other potential uses include as part of treatment for Parkinson’s disease, usually to alleviate nausea associated with taking additional drugs for the condition. It is a dopamine antagonist, which means that the normal receptors that take up dopamine can be blocked by the drug’s action. It should be noted that the US Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly blocked efforts to sell this drug legally in the US, though it is legal to obtain the medicine from places like Canada; it still needs to be taken under physician guidance, if it is purchased elsewhere.
Most often, domperidone comes in a tablet form, though there are also suppository and intravenous versions. The amount used and frequency of the dose can depend on individual conditions for which it is used. As an antiemetic, it might only be taken a few times, possibly by suppository. Women who use it to increase lactation may use it for just a few months until lactation is well established. Those with ongoing gastrointestinal motility disorders could take it regularly, as might people who have Parkinson’s, if the drug shows any positive effects.
A lot of controversy exists about using domperidone in the US. The American Academy of Pediatrics feels it is safe to use for nursing mothers, though the drug does cross into breastmilk. Most countries see this drug’s use as a lactation stimulant as off-label, and there have been some reports suggesting the medicine may increase sodium levels in children to dangerous highs, could be associated with a higher incidence of seizures and possibly can cause dangerous arrhythmias. Given these potential side effects, women are advised to discuss all options for stimulating lactation with their physicians.
There are a number of side effects associated with domperidone, and not all people will experience all effects. The drug may stimulate lactation, regardless of whether this is its intended use and sometimes cause milk production in the breast. Men may get swollen breasts, and both genders can experience things like headache, eye swelling, itchiness, hives, and dry mouth. Although not as common, other potential side effects include urinary changes, thirst, weakness, sleepiness, mood changes, constipation or diarrhea, and cramping in the legs.
Very serious side effects of domperidone include swelling of the face, feet and legs and heart palpitations. Mouth swelling might occur and some people lose the ability to control their muscles. If the symptoms occur they are medically urgent and people should get help right away. It should be noted that such side effects are extremely rare.