Guidelines for Antiemetic Medicine

Updated July 19, 2017

An antiemetic is a medication which is used to prevent nausea and vomiting. It is typically used to treat motion sickness, stomach flu and the side effects of chemotherapy, opioid analgesics and general anesthesia. It is available in both prescription form and over-the-counter.


Some antiemetic medications work by blocking serotonin receptors in the central nervous system and in the gastrointestinal tract. Others work by coating the lining of the stomach. Antiemetics that contain antihistamines dull how the inner ear senses motion and blocks messages to the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting.

Drug interactions

To properly administer antiemetic medication, it is first important to be aware of any possible drug interactions. For example, the antiemetic bismuth subsalicylate, which is found in medications, such as Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol, contains salicylate. Certain pain relievers also contain aspirin, which is a salicylate. Taking a combination of these medications can cause you to "double up" on the dose, making you take more than you intended. Anyone with an allergy to aspirin should not take bismuth subsalicylate. It is also not recommended for children under age 12, or in teenagers age 12 to 18 who have had chicken pox, due to the increased risk of Reye Syndrome. It is important to consult with your physician if taking medications for arthritis, gout, diabetes or blood-thinning drugs, as there may be some possible contraindications with antiemetic medications.


Proper administration is very important for the antiemetic to be effective. This type of medication can be administered orally, intravenously, by intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, by suppositories and by skin patches. The method chosen depends on the severity of the nausea and vomiting and any other symptoms which might be present. For example, if the affected individual cannot keep anything in his stomach, he would not take the oral antiemetic and an individual who also had diarrhea would not take the suppository.


Some antiemetics can cause drowsiness and your ability to think clearly, so it is recommended that you not drive or operate machinery when taking these types of medication. Alcohol is also restricted with the use of antiemetics as alcohol can increase the drowsiness. Some other common side effects are dry mouth and dry eyes. These symptoms can usually be countered by drinking plenty of fluid and using saline eye drops.


There are some steps which can be followed after taking an antiemetic medication, which help the medication to work effectively and reduce nausea and vomiting. These include avoiding any fried foods while you are still sick, eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals, avoiding drinking a lot of fluid just before meals and sipping all drinks slowly. Items such as peppermint tea and ginger cookies can also be effective against nausea.

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About the Author

Camille Nesler has been in the nursing field for 18 years and received her degree from the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, Ark. She studied journalism at Lyon College in Arkansas. Nesler was the health reporter for the "Batesville Daily Guard" from 2005 to 2008. She has received awards from both the APME and APA.