Meclizine (Dramamine) : Meds Made Easy (MME)
What Is Meclizine (Antivert)?
Meclizine is the generic name for the prescription drug called Antivert and the over-the-counter (OTC) medicines known as Dramamine and Bonine. Meclizine is used to treat motion sickness and dizziness.
The drug belongs to a class of drugs called antihistamines, which are generally used to treat allergies. However, meclizine works a little differently, reducing nausea and muscle spasms.
Meclizine was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1957 under the brand name Antivert, manufactured by Citron Pharmaceuticals.
The 'Meclizine High' and Abuse
Because meclizine causes drowsiness, there may be potential for abuse.
Dramamine comes in two versions with different active ingredients. There is more concern about abuse of the original version of Dramamine, because it contains the antihistamine dimenhydrinate, which can cause euphoria and hallucinations at high doses.
The other Dramamine contains meclizine and is referred to as the "less drowsy" version.
Meclizine can create or worsen problems for some people. You should talk to your doctor before taking meclizine if:
- You have an allergy to meclizine or any of its ingredients
- You take other medications that dull the nervous system
- You are a person of advanced age
- If you live where there is extremely hot weather
Before taking meclizine, you should talk to your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
You should not take meclizine if you are taking any of the following:
- Sodium oxybate (Xyrem), used to treat narcolepsy and some kinds of muscle problems
- Potassium drugs, including potassium phosphate (K Phos), chloride (Klor Con), or citrate (Urocit-K)
Pregnancy and Meclizine
Meclizine falls under the FDA's Pregnancy Category B, which means it has not been shown to harm a fetus.
Regardless, you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking this medication.
You should also alert your physician if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It's recommended that breastfeeding mothers not take this medication.
Meclizine Side Effects
Common Side Effects of Meclizine
If you experience any of these more common side effects and they do not get better, or they become severe, tell your doctor or seek emergency medical attention:
- Mild sleepiness
- Mild headache
- Stomach or digestive discomfort
- Dry mouth, dry nose, and dry eyes
Serious Side Effects and Reactions
Tell your doctor right away or get emergency medical help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A swollen tongue or a feeling like your throat is closing up
- A severe rash or hives
- Swelling or red eyes
- Trouble breathing
- Signs of abnormal bleeding caused by low blood-clotting cells, such as: easy bruising, red pin-prick spots on the skin, gums bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Abnormal changes in mental state or behavior, personality changes, hallucinations, or delusions (psychosis)
- Heat stroke
You should get medical attention if any of the following occur as well:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Poor coordination
- Unusual excitement or nervousness
- Blurred or double vision
- Irregular or racing heartbeat
- Skin that has become sensitive to the sun
- Constipation or problems urinating
- Problems getting an erection
- Itching and swelling in the ear (labyrinthitis)
It is always important to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your treatments, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications; vitamins, nutritional shakes, protein powders, and other supplements; herbal treatments or other alternative medicines; and any illegal or recreational drugs.
The following drugs are known to interact with meclizine:
- Pain medications that are related to opium, such as: alfentanil (Alfenta), codeine (Tylenol # 3), cihydrocodeine (Synalog), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet), levorphanol (Levo Dromoran), meperidine (Demerol), reminifentanil (Ultiva), and sufentanil (Sufenta)
- Sleeping medicines, such as: zaleplon (Sonata), zolipidem (Ambien), eszopiclone, and chloral hydrate
- Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen, cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), carisoprodol (Soma), and orphenadrine (Zanaflex)
You should talk your doctor if you are taking allergy medications or any drugs for anxiety, mood, or depression, when taking meclizine, so you will know about special drug-interaction symptoms you need to monitor. These include:
- Mood or depression drugs amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine (Asendin), aripiprazole (Ability), loxapine (Loxitane), nortiptyline (Pamelor), and oxazepam (Serax).
- Anxiety medicines estazolam (Prosom), diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane, Dalmadorm), and Midazolam.
- Antihistamine allergy medications: brompheniramine (Bromfed, Brom-fed DM), chlorpheniramine (often in children's cold and allergy drugs, such as Tylenol Children's Cough and Cold, and Dimetapp products for Children), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Meclizine and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol while taking meclizine may worsen the side effects of the drug.
Meclizine and Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit juice is not likely to affect how meclizine works. Both the drug and grapefruit juice are broken down by the liver, but the process for each is different.
Meclizine and Other Interactions
In general, you should be careful taking meclizine if you are already taking medications that cause drowsiness, dry mouth, difficulty using the bathroom, or appear to slow the nervous system, because adding meclizine to your medications can make all of these symptoms worse.
Meclizine is available in 12.5 milligram (mg), 25 mg, and 50 mg tablets. Some meclizine tablets are available in chewable form.
If you suspect an overdose, you should contact a poison-control center or emergency room immediately. You can reach a poison-control center at (800) 222-1222.
Missed Dose of Meclizine
If you miss a dose of Meclizine, try to take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of the medication at the same time.
By Frieda Wiley, PharmD, CGP, RPh | Medically Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD
Latest Update: 2014-12-16
Copyright © 2014 Everyday Health Media, LLC
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