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Nausea medicine: What are the options?

By Jenilee Matz, MPH Jan 25, 2022 • 6 min

Nausea is an unpleasant feeling in your stomach with an urge to vomit. The sensation can occur with or without vomiting. Fortunately, there are treatments for nausea, including medications for adults, children and pregnant women.

Nausea medicine for adults

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) nausea medicine is available to help ease nausea and vomiting. Note that nausea does not always need to be treated with medication, and many medicines can cause side effects. Always talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any medicine for nausea. Some medications may not be helpful for certain causes of nausea, while other medicines may not be recommended for you based on your age, health, medicines you take and other factors.

OTC nausea medication options include:

  • Antihistamines, such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine), can help keep queasiness at bay when nausea is due to motion sickness.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate) may help ease nausea and vomiting due to certain causes, including some stomach viruses.

In certain cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to prevent or control nausea, depending on the cause, the severity of your symptoms and how well you respond to other treatments.

Nausea medicine for kids

OTC nausea medicine is not recommended for infants and children. However, your child's doctor may give them a prescription medication for nausea in certain situations, such as to reduce the risk of motion sickness or dehydration from vomiting. Never give your child a prescription nausea medicine unless it has been prescribed to them.

Nausea medicine for pregnant women

Mild morning sickness can often be managed with diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating crackers before getting out of bed in the morning, consuming small meals, drinking enough fluids and avoiding strong smells. Using ginger products may also help. If these remedies aren't enough to ease nausea, or if you have severe nausea and vomiting, your healthcare provider may recommend nausea medicine for pregnancy:

  • Vitamin B6 and doxylamine. Your provider may recommend first trying a vitamin B6 supplement. If that's not enough to bring you relief, they may suggest adding doxylamine (Unisom). Taking vitamin B6 and doxylamine has been shown to ease nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, and both medications have been found to be safe during pregnancy. There is also a prescription combination form of vitamin B6 and doxylamine available (Diclegis).
  • Prescription antiemetic medications. Your healthcare provider may give you a nausea medicine prescription if other treatments fail to bring you relief. Some anti-nausea medications have been shown to be safe during pregnancy, while others have mixed or limited safety information. Together, you and your healthcare provider can decide the best medication option for you.

If you have nausea that doesn’t improve with lifestyle remedies for nausea, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to find the best nausea medication for your needs.

Clinically reviewed and updated January 2022.

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