1. About cinnarizine
Cinnarizine is an antihistamine that stops you feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting).
It's known as a drowsy (sedating) antihistamine. It's more likely to make you feel sleepy than other antihistamines.
It's used for:
- travel sickness (also called motion sickness)
- dizziness and sickness caused by inner ear problems (such as vertigo, tinnitus and Ménière's disease)
It also comes mixed with dimenhydrinate (another antihistamine) to treat vertigo.
Cinnarizine comes as tablets. It is available on prescription, or to buy at pharmacies and supermarkets.
2. Key facts
- Avoid drinking alcohol while taking cinnarizine. Alcohol increases the chance of side effects.
- To prevent travel sickness, take cinnarizine 2 hours before your journey. You can take another dose 8 hours later if you need to.
- Common side effects include feeling sleepy, putting on weight or indigestion.
- Take cinnarizine after a meal to stop it upsetting your stomach.
- Popular brand names include Stugeron.
3. Who can and can't take cinnarizine
Cinnarizine can be taken by most adults and children aged 5 years and above.
Cinnarizine is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have:
- had an allergic reaction to cinnarizine or any other medicines in the past
- problems peeing or emptying your bladder
- epilepsy or any other health problem that causes fits or seizures
- an eye problem called primary angle closure glaucoma
- Parkinson's disease, as cinnarizine could worsen your symptoms
- an allergy test coming up
Cinnarizine can affect the results of allergy tests. Ask at your allergy clinic for advice. You may need to stop taking it a few days before your test.
4. How and when to take it
If you buy cinnarizine from a pharmacy or supermarket, follow the instructions that come with the packet, or ask a pharmacist for advice.
If you or your child have been prescribed cinnarizine, follow your doctor's instructions about how and when to take it.
It's a good idea to take your cinnarizine tablets after a meal. It will be less likely to upset your stomach.
You can suck or chew the tablets, or swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water.
How much to take
Cinnarizine comes as 15mg tablets. Your dose will depend on why you're taking it.
For travel sickness
Adults and children aged 12 years or older – take 2 tablets 2 hours before travel, then 1 tablet every 8 hours during the journey if needed.
Children aged 5 to 11 years – give 1 tablet 2 hours before travel, then half a tablet every 8 hours during the journey if needed.
For dizziness and sickness caused by inner ear problems
Adults and children aged 12 years or older – the usual dose is 2 tablets, taken 3 times a day.
Children aged 5 to 11 years – the usual dose is 1 tablet, taken 3 times a day.
What if I take too much?
Taking too much cinnarizine can make you very sleepy or confused, feel sick or be sick, feel weak or shaky, or give you a very fast, uneven or pounding heartbeat (palpitations).
It can give a child fits or seizures.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a very fast, uneven or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
- your child has a fit or seizure
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself - get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the cinnarizine packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
What if I forget my medicine?
If you forget to take a dose of cinnarizine, take it as soon as you remember. Unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In which case, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.
It's important to leave at least 8 hours between doses. Do not take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask a pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, cinnarizine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if the side effects bother you or do not go away:
- feeling sleepy during the daytime
- feeling sick
- putting on weight
Serious side effects
Call a doctor straight away if you have:
- slow, twitchy or jerky body movements, muscle stiffness, trembling or shaking. This is more likely to happen in older people who have taken cinnarizine for a long time
- yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, and dark pee - these can be signs of liver problems
- joint pain along with a red skin rash, especially in parts of your body exposed to the sun, such as your arms, cheeks and nose
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to cinnarizine.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
These are not all the side effects of cinnarizine. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- feeling sleepy during the daytime - stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better. Do not drive or use tools or machinery if you're feeling drowsy. Do not drink alcohol as it will make you feel worse.
- feeling sick - stick to simple meals and do not eat rich or spicy food. If you're being sick, try small frequent sips of water to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark strong-smelling pee.
- indigestion - take cinnarizine with food to reduce the risk of stomach problems but avoid rich or spicy food. If your symptoms do not go away, speak to your doctor. They may recommend an additional medicine to protect your stomach.
- putting on weight - try to eat well without increasing portion sizes. Regular exercise will also help you keep your weight stable.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Cinnarizine is not usually recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor or a pharmacist if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and cinnarizine interfere with each other and increase the chance of side effects.
Tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking any medicine that:
- makes you drowsy
- gives you a dry mouth
- makes it difficult for you to pee
Taking cinnarizine can make these side effects worse.
Mixing cinnarizine with herbal remedies and supplements
There might be a problem taking some herbal remedies and supplements alongside cinnarizine, especially ones that cause side effects such as sleepiness, a dry mouth or making it difficult to pee.
Ask your pharmacist for advice.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does cinnarizine work?
Cinnarizine is a type of medicine called an antihistamine. It's classed as a drowsy (sedating) antihistamine.
It blocks the effects of histamine in your brain to reduce symptoms of travel sickness.
It also acts as a calcium channel blocker. This helps improve blood flow in the inner ear and reduces symptoms caused by vertigo, tinnitus and Ménière's disease.
How long does it take to work?
Cinnarizine works gradually.
From the time you take the tablet, it can take up to 4 hours for the medicine to reach its full effect.
How long will I take it for?
The length of time you take cinnarizine for depends on why you're taking it.
For travel sickness, you only need to take cinnarizine before and during your journey.
If you're taking cinnarizine to treat sickness and dizziness caused by inner ear problems, you may need to take it for several months.
Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist if you're unsure how long you need to take your medicine for.
Is it safe to take for a long time?
Cinnarizine is unlikely to harm you, even if you take it for a long time.
However, only take this medicine for as long as you need it.
If you find that cinnarizine makes you put on weight, and regular exercise and eating well does not help, speak to your doctor.
What will happen if I stop taking it?
If you've been prescribed cinnarizine to help with inner ear problems, your symptoms may return if you stop taking it.
Can I drive or ride a bike with it?
Do not drive a car or ride a bike if cinnarizine makes you sleepy, gives you blurred vision or makes you feel dizzy, clumsy or unable to concentrate or make decisions.
This may be more likely when you first start taking cinnarizine, but could happen at any time (for example, when starting another medicine).
It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected. It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive.
GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking cinnarizine.
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no firm evidence to suggest that taking cinnarizine will reduce fertility in either men or women.
However, speak to a pharmacist or your doctor before taking it if you're trying to get pregnant.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
It's best not to drink alcohol while taking cinnarizine.
Cinnarizine combined with alcohol can make you feel very sleepy.
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Apart from avoiding alcohol, you can eat and drink normally while taking cinnarizine.