What Are the Best Medications for Nausea?
Most people have experienced the unpleasant sensation of nausea at some point in their lives. Different things can trigger nausea, such as food poisoning, taking a certain medicine on an empty stomach, motion sickness, or morning sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Nausea is essentially a sensation of an upset stomach and a feeling like you’re going to vomit— though vomiting may or may not occur every time.
Thankfully, many effective anti-nausea medications and natural remedies can provide relief. Please continue reading to learn more about some prescription medications, OTC medicines, and natural treatments for nausea.
What medications are used to control nausea?
Over-the-Counter Antiemetics (Anti-Nausea Medicines)
- Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate): Commonly used when someone has gastroenteritis (stomach flu), this anti-nausea medicine reduces stomach acid and protects the stomach lining while easing discomfort and nausea.
- Emetrol (phosphorated carbohydrate): Similar to Pepto-Bismol, Emetrol is one of the OTC medicines that help alleviate nausea associated with stomach flu.
- Antihistamines that provide OTC relief of nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness:
- Dramamine (dimenhydrinate): This anti-nausea medication works by blocking the vomiting reflex. It is used for nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness.
- Bonine, Dramamine Less Drowsy (meclizine): This is an antihistamine that can manage nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine): this OTC product is often used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness.
The following over-the-counter medicines for nausea are also available by prescription:
- Dimenhydrinate injection - used for nausea, vomiting, and vertigo.
- Meclizine (Antivert) - used at higher doses for vertigo.
Prescription Anti-Nausea and Antiemetic Medicines
- Zofran (ondansetron): It belongs to a group of drugs called serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. Ondansetron controls nausea by blocking the action of a chemical called serotonin. It is used to treat nausea and vomiting--the most common side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
- Phenergan (promethazine): Promethazine’s drug class is phenothiazines; however, it also provides antihistamine effects. It is used to treat nausea/vomiting after surgery; it is also used as a sleep aid and to treat allergy symptoms.
- Reglan (metoclopramide): This anti-nausea medication relieves nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach by blocking the action of dopamine and speeding up the emptying of the stomach.
- Compro (prochlorperazine): This medication belongs to a drug class called phenothiazines; it is available as a rectal suppository to treat severe nausea and vomiting.
What is the most effective anti-nausea medication?
Different anti-nausea medicines work in different ways. The most effective anti-nausea medicine for you will likely depend on the underlying cause (the health condition that creates nausea).
- Salicylate medicines like Pepto-Bismol work well for nausea caused by an upset stomach due to stomach flu.
- Antihistamines like promethazine are effective when nausea is caused by motion sickness or inner ear problems (vertigo).
- Dopamine antagonists like prochlorperazine are useful in treating nausea caused by cancer drugs, radiation, and opiate medications.
- Metoclopramide acts directly on the gut and helps ease nausea caused by stomach problems or migraines.
- Ondansetron is often part of the treatment plan for cancer patients to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. This medication is also used as an antiemetic after surgery.
A healthcare provider can help you decide which anti-nausea medication is best for you, depending on the cause of nausea and other health conditions. Consulting a doctor will also ensure that your anti-nausea drug does not interact with your other medications.
Pregnant women should consult a doctor before taking any medication for nausea to ensure it is safe for the baby.
What natural remedies can be used to treat nausea?
Avoiding spicy and greasy foods is helpful in preventing nausea. Eating bland foods can help calm the stomach and provide relief from nausea symptoms.
Ginger is one of the most commonly used home remedies for nausea. It is safe for use by pregnant women. Ginger is available in the form of capsules, candies, and ginger ale drinks.
Teas with ginger, lemon, or peppermint as the active ingredient can help settle an upset stomach and ease nausea.
Taking vitamin B6 supplements has been found to help some pregnant women, chemotherapy patients, and people who suffer from motion sickness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two cannabis-containing anti-nausea products—Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone)—to help relieve nausea in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Lemon, cardamom and peppermint oil aromatherapy have been shown to relieve nausea in chemotherapy patients.
This is a type of alternative therapy in which pressure is applied at specific points on the body. Some people find that acupressure helps with nausea and other stomach-related health problems.
When to see a doctor for nausea and vomiting?
It is usually okay to treat occasional, mild nausea and vomiting with over-the-counter medicine or a natural remedy. However, you should see a healthcare provider if nausea and vomiting last more than two days in adults and children over the age of 2, 24 hours in children under the age of 2, or 12 hours in babies. You should also seek medical attention if you have on and off episodes of nausea and vomiting for more than a month or you have unexplained weight loss or other symptoms accompanying nausea and vomiting.