1. About prochlorperazine
Prochlorperazine is an anti-sickness medicine. It can help stop you feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting).
You can take prochlorperazine to treat:
- morning sickness
- feelings of dizziness (vertigo)
- travel sickness
- feelings of sickness due to migraines
- sickness caused by general anaesthetics after surgery, cancer treatment or taking other medicines
- problems with balance such as Ménière's disease
Prochlorperazine may occasionally be used to treat some forms of anxiety.
It's available as tablets and a liquid that you swallow. It can also be given as an injection, but this is usually done in hospital.
Prochlorperazine tablets and liquid are available on prescription. You can also buy tablets in a pharmacy without a prescription to treat nausea and vomiting, but only if you've been previously diagnosed with migraines.
2. Key facts
- Prochlorperazine starts to work in around 30 to 60 minutes.
- Common side effects include feeling sleepy and blurred vision.
- You can usually take prochlorperazine when you need it, up to 3 times a day.
- It's best not to drink alcohol while taking prochlorperazine. It can increase the chance of side effects, such as feeling sleepy.
3. Who can and cannot take prochlorperazine
Prochlorperazine can be taken by most adults and children aged 1 year and over.
Prochlorperazine is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to prochlorperazine or any other medicines in the past
- have high blood pressure due to a tumour near the kidney (phaeochromocytoma)
- have glaucoma
- have a history of blood clots or may be at higher risk of developing a clot
- have Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, hernia or colon cancer, or any other condition that can lead to a blockage in your bowel
- have liver problems
- have epilepsy or any condition that causes fits or seizures
- have high blood pressure or heart failure
4. How and when to take prochlorperazine
If you or your child have been prescribed prochlorperazine, follow your doctor's instructions about how and when to take it.
Prochlorperazine tablets come as:
- standard tablets that you swallow whole with a drink of water
- tablets that dissolve between your upper lip and gum (buccal tablets)
Standard tablets and liquid can be taken with or without food.
Buccal tablets work best if they're taken after meals. This gives them more time to dissolve.
The dose varies depending on what you are taking prochlorperazine for, but it is usually taken 2 to 3 times a day.
The dose for children aged 1 to 17 years is based on their weight.
What if I forget to take it?
For travel sickness, take it as soon as you remember.
For anything else, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.
Never take 2 doses at the same time.
What if I take too much?
Taking too much prochlorperazine can be dangerous.
Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:
- you take too much prochlorperazine
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 prochlorperazine packet, or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, prochlorperazine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They're usually mild and go away by themselves.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- feeling sleepy or drowsy
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- stuffy nose
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 10,000 people.
Tell your doctor straight away if you get:
- muscle stiffness or shaking, or uncontrollable face or tongue movements
- a sudden high temperature or an infection
- sore breasts in both men and women
- yellowing skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow – these can be signs of liver problems
- a fast or irregular heartbeat (your heart feels like it's pounding)
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to prochlorperazine.
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 prochlorperazine. 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 of prochlorperazine
What to do about:
- feeling sleepy or drowsy – do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery. It's best not to drink alcohol, as it'll make you feel more tired. This should wear off as your body gets used to the medicine. Talk to your doctor if it continues for longer than a week, they may be able to suggest a different medicine.
- blurred vision – do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery. If it lasts for more than 2 days, speak to your doctor.
- dry mouth – try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets.
- headache – rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can take an everyday painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Talk to your doctor if the headaches last longer than a week or are severe.
- stuffy nose – try a menthol decongestant or talk to your pharmacist if this bothers you.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Prochlorperazine and pregnancy
Your doctor may prescribe prochlorperazine for morning sickness.
There's no evidence that prochlorperazine will harm your baby, but for safety it's best to take it for the shortest possible time.
Prochlorperazine and breastfeeding
Prochlorperazine passes into breast milk in small amounts. Talk to your doctor, as other medicines might be better while you're breastfeeding.
If your baby was premature, had a low birthweight or is not feeding as usual, speak to your doctor before taking any anti-sickness medicine.
If you take prochlorperazine while breastfeeding and notice your baby is sleeping more than usual or is behaving differently, talk to your health visitor or doctor as soon as possible.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
For more information about how prochlorperazine can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read the leaflet about the best use of prochlorperazine in pregnancy (BUMPS).
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and prochlorperazine do not work well together. This can increase the chance of having side effects.
Tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking any medicine that:
- makes you sleepy or drowsy
- gives you a dry mouth
- can affect your heart – taking prochlorperazine might make these side effects worse
Taking with other anti-sickness medicines
It's usually best to only take one type of medicine for feeling or being sick.
If prochlorperazine does not work for you, speak to your doctor and they may suggest a different medicine for you.
Mixing prochlorperazine with herbal remedies or supplements
Some herbal remedies can make your side effects worse. Speak to your pharmacist before taking any herbal supplements.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does prochlorperazine work?
Prochlorperazine belongs to a group of medicines called phenothiazines.
Phenothiazines are thought to work by blocking the action of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. This stops nausea messages from being sent to a part of your brain called the "vomiting centre".
The vomiting centre controls when you feel sick or vomit.
How long does it take to work?
Prochlorperazine starts to work in around 30 to 60 minutes.
If you're taking it for Ménière's disease, it will take a few days before it reaches its full effect.
How long will I take it for?
Prochlorperazine should be used for the shortest possible time and at the lowest dose that works for you.
If you take it for a long time and stop suddenly, it can cause withdrawal symptoms such as feeling or being sick and problems sleeping.
Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking prochlorperazine. They will probably want to reduce your dose gradually to stop you having any of these withdrawal symptoms.
Can I take it for a long time?
Prochlorperazine can be taken long term if you need it, however, this should only be done if your doctor advises it.
Is prochlorperazine addictive?
Prochlorperazine is not usually addictive, however, if you stop taking it suddenly after taking it for a long time, it can cause withdrawal symptoms such as feeling or being sick and problems sleeping.
Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking prochlorperazine after taking it for a long time. They will probably want to reduce your dose gradually to stop you having any of these withdrawal symptoms.
Are there other anti-sickness medicines?
Prochlorperazine belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-sickness (anti-emetic) medicines.
There's not enough information available to say whether one is better than another for helping with sickness. You may need to try a few different medicines to find out what works best for you.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
It is best not to drink alcohol when taking prochlorperazine.
Drinking alcohol can make side effects worse, such as feeling sleepy or an irregular heartbeat.
Are there foods and drinks to avoid?
Apart from avoiding alcohol, you can eat and drink normally while taking prochlorperazine.
It's best to take buccal tablets after food so you do not accidentally swallow them before they dissolve.
Will it affect my contraception?
But if prochlorperazine is not working for you and you're being sick, your contraceptive pills may not protect you from pregnancy.
Look at your pill packet to find out what to do.
Will it affect my fertility?
Prochlorperazine can increase levels of a hormone called prolactin. If levels of prolactin become high enough this can cause periods to stop in women and impotence in men.
However, this is not usually an issue while taking prochlorperazine for a short time to treat sickness.
If you have any concerns about this, speak to your doctor.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Do not drive a car or ride a bike if prochlorperazine makes you sleepy, or if you have an irregular heartbeat caused by taking prochlorperazine.
This may be more likely when you first start taking prochlorperazine, 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 prochlorperazine.