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Hyoscine hydrobromide (Kwells and Joy-Rides)

1. About hyoscine hydrobromide

Hyoscine hydrobromide is taken to prevent travel sickness (motion sickness).

It can also be used to reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. This can help with symptoms if you're having palliative care or end of life care.

Hyoscine hydrobromide comes as patches and tablets that you suck, chew or swallow. It can also given by injection, but this is usually only done in hospital.

You can buy the travel sickness tablets and patches at pharmacies.

Hyoscine hydrobromide patches and tablets for reducing excess saliva are available on prescription only.

Information:

Hyoscine hydrobromide is not the same as hyoscine butylbromide, better known as Buscopan.

2. Key facts

  • Hyoscine hydrobromide is mainly used to prevent travel sickness.
  • The most common side effects are a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision.
  • The travel sickness tablets come in different strengths: 300 micrograms for adults, 150 micrograms for children.
  • Do not give travel sickness tablets to children under the age of 4 years. Do not give the patches to children under the age of 10 years.
  • Popular brand names for the travel sickness tablets are Kwells, Kwells Kids and Joy-Rides. The patches are called Scopaderm.

3. Who can and cannot take hyoscine hydrobromide

Hyoscine hydrobromide tablets for travel sickness can be taken by adults and children from the age of 4 years.

For excess saliva, the tablets are prescribed for adults and children aged 12 years and older.

Hyoscine hydrobromide patches (for both travel sickness and excess saliva) can generally be used by adults and children from the age of 10 years.

Hyoscine hydrobromide is not suitable for some people. Tell a doctor or pharmacist if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to hyoscine hydrobromide or any other medicines in the past
  • have an eye problem called primary angle closure glaucoma
  • have difficulty peeing or a bowel blockage
  • have myasthenia gravis, an illness that causes muscle weakness
  • have heart problems, including a very fast heart rate
  • have thyroid, kidney or liver problems
  • have food poisoning or other digestive problems, such as acid reflux, severe constipation or ulcerative colitis
  • have a high temperature
  • are trying for a baby or you're pregnant, as hyoscine hydrobromide is not recommended in pregnancy

4. How and when to take it

Always read the information that comes with your medicine.

The instructions may be vary, depending on why you're taking hyoscine hydrobromide and whether you're taking tablets or using patches.

You can suck or chew the tablets, or swallow them whole with a drink of water. You can take the tablets with or without food.

The patches work like a plaster and you stick them on your skin.

How to take tablets for travel sickness

Pharmacies sell 2 different strengths of hyoscine hydrobromide tablets:

  • 150 micrograms (including Kwells Kids and Joy-Rides) – for children aged 4 years and older

  • 300 micrograms (including Kwells) – for adults and children aged 10 years and older

Take a dose at least 30 minutes before the start of your journey, or as soon as you start to feel sick when travelling.

For long journeys, you can repeat the dose every 6 hours.

Do not take more than 3 doses in 24 hours.

Dosage by tablet strength

Dosage for hyoscine hydrobromide tablets (150 or 300 micrograms)
Age Which strength? Dose
4 to 9 years 150 micrograms half tablet to 1 tablet
10 to 17 years 150 micrograms 1 tablet to 2 tablets
10 to 17 years 300 micrograms half tablet to 1 tablet
18 years and over 300 micrograms 1 tablet

How to use patches for travel sickness

Patches are suitable for adults and children aged 10 years or older.

  1. Stick a patch to the skin behind the ear 5 to 6 hours before the start of your journey (or the evening before you travel).
  2. Remove the patch at the end of your journey.

For long journeys, you can keep the patch on for up to 72 hours (3 days).

If you're still travelling after 72 hours, remove the first patch and stick a new patch behind the other ear. You can keep this on for another 72 hours if needed.

How to take tablets for excess saliva

These tablets are available on prescription only. They can be taken by adults and children aged 12 years or older.

The usual dose is 1 tablet (300 micrograms), 3 times a day.

How to use patches for excess saliva

Adults and children aged 10 years or older:

  1. Stick a patch to the skin behind the ear.
  2. Leave the patch on for 72 hours (3 days).
  3. After 72 hours, remove the patch.
  4. Stick a new patch behind the other ear.
  5. After 72 hours, remove the patch.
  6. Repeat the process.

Occasionally a doctor may prescribe patches for a child under the age of 9 years.

In this case, they'll use your child's weight to work out what size patch to use. They may only need to use half a patch.

What if I take too much?

Taking 1 extra dose of hyoscine hydrobromide by accident is unlikely to harm you.

But you may get more side effects, such as a dry mouth or blurred vision.

The amount of hyoscine hydrobromide that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person, and too much hyoscine can be dangerous.

Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:

  • you or your child take 2 extra doses of hyoscine hydrobromide or more

Taking too much hyoscine can be dangerous. In serious cases, you can become unconscious or have fits and you'll need emergency treatment in hospital.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111

If you need advice for a child under the age of 5 years, call 111.

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 hyoscine hydrobromide packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.

5. Side effects

Like all medicines, hyoscine hydrobromide can cause side effects. But most people have no side effects or only minor ones.

Common side effects

These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.

Talk to a pharmacist or doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • feeling sleepy or dizzy
  • a dry mouth
  • constipation
  • blurred vision or itchy eyelids
  • problems peeing (taking longer to empty your bladder, or feeling that your bladder's not quite empty even after peeing)

Serious side effects

It happens rarely, but some people may have a serious side effect when taking hyoscine hydrobromide.

Stop taking hyoscine hydrobromide (or remove your patch) if this happens to you.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if you:

  • have a painful red eye with loss of vision – this could be caused by an increase in pressure in your eye
  • are feeling confused or seeing things that are not real (hallucinations)
  • cannot pee at all
  • have a fast pounding heart rate that does not settle or keeps coming back

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to hyoscine hydrobromide.

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

You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

These are not all the side effects of hyoscine hydrobromide.

For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.

Information:

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 or dizzy – do not drive or use tools or machinery if you're feeling this way. Try to avoid drinking alcohol as this will make you feel more tired. Talk to your doctor if this bothers you as you may need to switch to a different medicine.
  • dry mouth – try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets.
  • constipation – eat more high-fibre foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Try to exercise more regularly (for example, by going for a daily walk or run). If this does not help, talk to a pharmacist or doctor.
  • fast heart rate – if this keeps happening after taking hyoscine hydrobromide, try taking your medicine at a time when you can sit or lie down while your symptoms are worst. It may also help to cut down on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and big meals, as these can make the problem worse. If you're still having symptoms after a week, speak to a doctor. You may need to change to a different type of medicine.
  • problems peeing – try to relax when you pee. Do not try to force the flow of urine. If it does not happen, try again later. Talk to a doctor urgently if you cannot pee at all.

7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Hyoscine hydrobromide is not usually recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Tiny amounts of hyoscine hydrobromide may get into breast milk, but it's not known if this harms the baby.

There's a small risk that hyoscine hydrobromide may reduce the amount of milk you produce.

Non-urgent advice: Tell a doctor or a pharmacist if you're:

  • pregnant
  • trying to get pregnant
  • breastfeeding

8. Cautions with other medicines

Some medicines and hyoscine hydrobromide can interfere with each other or increase your risk of side effects.

Do not take hyoscine hydrobromide if you're taking medicines used to increase the movement of your gut.

This includes domperidone and metoclopramide.

They can cancel each other out, which means your medicines do not work.

Some medicines increase your risk of side effects if you take them at the same time as hyoscine hydrobromide.

Only take them together if your doctor tells you to.

This includes:

  • amantadine, a medicine for Parkinson's disease
  • quinidine and disopyramide, heart medicines
  • allergy medicines, such as antihistamines
  • some medicines for depression, such as amitriptyline
  • some inhaled asthma medicines, including salbutamol, ipratropium, tiotropium
  • medicines for mental health problems, such as chlorpromazine or clozapine (unless your doctor prescribes hyoscine hydrobromide for excess saliva caused by clozapine)

Mixing hyoscine hydrobromide with herbal remedies and supplements

There might be a problem taking some herbal remedies and supplements alongside hyoscine hydrobromide, especially ones that cause side effects such as sleepiness, a dry mouth or making it difficult to pee.

Ask a pharmacist for advice.

Important

Tell a doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.

9. Common questions

How does hyoscine hydrobromide work?

Hyoscine hydrobromide belongs to a group of medicines called anticholinergics or antimuscarinics.

Hyoscine hydrobromide blocks a chemical called acetylcholine. This chemical is found naturally in parts of your brain and nervous system.

Blocking acetylcholine reduces the amount of saliva produced by your salivary glands, as well as secretions in your lungs.

We do not fully understand how hyoscine hydrobromide prevents travel sickness.

It may block messages from your inner ear (which controls balance) to the part of your brain that controls vomiting.

Hyoscine hydrobromide also relaxes the wave-like muscle contractions in the walls of your stomach.

How long does it take to work?

The tablets start working in 20 to 30 minutes.

The patches take up to 6 hours to work fully.

How long will I take it for?

The length of time you take hyoscine hydrobromide for depends on why you're taking it.

For travel sickness, you only need to take the tablets or use the patches before and during your journey.

For reducing saliva, you may need to take the tablets or use the patches for a long time (more than 3 months).

It's only recommended for longer than 3 months if you're taking the recommended dose and not having any side effects.

Is it safe to take for a long time?

Hyoscine hydrobromide is unlikely to do you any harm when taking it for a long time, as long as you take the recommended dose and the side effects do not bother you.

What will happen if I stop taking it?

If you take hyoscine hydrobromide for travel sickness, nothing will happen when you stop taking it at the end of your journey.

If you're taking it to reduce saliva, stopping your medicine may cause your symptoms to return.

Can I drive or ride a bike with it?

Do not drive a car or ride a bike if hyoscine hydrobromide 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 it, 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 a doctor or pharmacist if you're not sure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking hyoscine hydrobromide.

Will it affect my fertility?

There's no firm evidence to suggest that taking hyoscine hydrobromide will reduce fertility in either men or women.

But speak to a pharmacist or doctor before taking it if you're trying to get pregnant.

Will it affect my contraception?

Hyoscine hydrobromide does not affect any type of contraception, including the combined pill and emergency contraception.

Can I drink alcohol with it?

It's best not to drink alcohol while taking hyoscine hydrobromide.

Hyoscine hydrobromide 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 hyoscine hydrobromide.

Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019
Next review due: 28 August 2022