Over The Counter Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting

When to Use OTC Medications to Treat Nausea and/or Vomiting?

Medication to help relieve nausea and vomiting should only be used when symptoms are mild and episodic. Do not try and treat severe symptoms or symptoms that occur regularly with OTC medications.  Please contact your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room if you experience uncontrollable fever, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain  or symptoms of dehydration.

Medications: Bismuth Subsalicylate

One reason to treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicine is during viral illnesses that are associated with vomiting. Bismuth Subsalicylate, or Pepto-Bismol, ™ will help reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting as well as help calm down the stomach during these types of infections. The most common infection for which to use this medication is for gastroenteritis.

Medications: Over-The-Counter Antihistamines that act as anti-emetics:

Specific over-the-counter antihistamines are often used to treat symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or dizziness resulting from motion sickness. It works by blocking H-1 receptors in the brain, which causes symptoms such as nausea and dizziness associated with motion sickness. It is best to take these medications at least 30 to 60 minutes before anticipated travel or needed use.

The most concerning side effect of these medications is drowsiness, but it may also cause dry mouth, blurry vision, and urine retention. If you have eye problems or bladder issues, please contact your healthcare provider before trying these meds.  Never use these medications with alcohol or sedative medications unless directed by a healthcare provider.

Medications include:

Meclizine, also known as OTC Non-drowsy Dramamine ™, Antivert™, or  Bonine ™, are as a whole,  reportedly less drowsy when compared to Dramamine, but some people may still experience sedation on this medication.

Dimenhydrinate or Dramamine™ is also very effective but known to cause increased sedation. It may be a great alternative for a long plane flight especially if you have some anxiety or just desire sleep.

It is best to test out the medication before depending on it for travel.



Women who are pregnant and experiencing symptoms should consult their Obstetrician before taking any medication over-the-counter.

Alternative Treatments:

There are many food ingredients that have been found to aid nausea and vomiting. The most common are ginger, peppermint, and chamomile. Teas made with these ingredients are also often used, especially chamomile and peppermint tea.  A common cure for nausea and vomiting that has been used by moms for the past few generations has been Ginger Ale. Ginger gum is available in the OTC section of most pharmacies.

As emphasized earlier, please contact your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room if you experiencing uncontrollable fever, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, or symptoms of dehydration. Your healthcare provider has the ability to prescribe stronger medications but he or she needs you to communicate with them to help determine the cause of your symptoms and help you regain your health.




Nausea and Vomiting, Medline Plus ( Service of United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Web site). www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003117.htm. Accessed October 10, 2012.

Neural mechanisms of motion sickness.

N. Takeda, M. Morita, A. Horii, S. Nishiike, T. Kitahara, A. Uno

J Med Invest. 2001 February; 48(1-2): 44–59.

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