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Antiemetic Medications Definition
Antiemetic Medications are medications that relieve NAUSEA and VOMITING (known clinically as emesis). The most commonly used are anticholinergic medications and antihistamine medications, which suppress the vestibular system mechanisms that cause vomiting.
Many antihistamine products are available over the counter. Doctors may recommend or prescribe these medications to treat nausea related to VERTIGO, MÉNIÈRE’S DISEASE, LABYRINTHITIS, and other disorders of the inner EAR and vestibular system, and to help prevent motion sickness. Both anticholinergics and antihistamines can cause drowsiness and dry MOUTH.
A classification of powerful antiemetics, the 5-HT3 RECEPTOR ANTAGONIST MEDICATIONS, became available in the 1990s. Doctors prescribe these medications, such as dolasetron and ondansetron, primarily to treat nausea and vomiting resulting from RADIATION THERAPY, CHEMOTHERAPY, and surgery. These medications work by blocking serotonin from reaching receptors in the gastrointestinal system and may have neurologic side effects such as Parkinson-like symptoms.
Over-the-counter products to treat nausea include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and cola syrup, both of which are effective for relieving mild nausea and vomiting with viral INFECTION (such as GASTRITIS and GASTROENTERITIS). Pharmacies also sell a commercial preparation of phosphorated carbohydrate solution, similar to cola syrup, called Emetrol. Cola drinks allowed to go “flat” have the same antinausea effect. These substances act to soothe the inner lining of the stomach. GINGER also has a calming action on the stomach and can provide relief through drinking flat ginger ale (brands that contain ginger, not just ginger flavoring) or eating small pieces of fresh ginger root.
Treatment for nausea and vomiting also targets any underlying conditions or causative circumstances.
See also ACUPUNCTURE; MORNING SICKNESS; NEUROTRANSMITTER.