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Meclizine Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Aug 24, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

How it works

  • Meclizine is used for its antiemetic (anti-nausea), sedative, and antihistaminic properties.
  • Meclizine blocks H1-histamine receptors, reducing the effects of histamine such as vasodilation and increased permeability, narrowing of the airways, and stomach cramps. Meclizine also has an anticholinergic action (this means it blocks the effect of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, on muscarinic receptors). Both these effects reduce stimulation of the vomiting center (one of the areas of the brain thought to control vomiting) from the vestibular system (the structure within each ear that provides the brain with sensory information about motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation). These actions are thought to contribute to the antiemetic effect of meclizine. Meclizine may also act directly on the chemoreceptor trigger zone.
  • Meclizine belongs to the class of drugs known as first generation antihistamines. It may also be called an antiemetic.


  • Used to treat nausea, vomiting, and dizziness associated with motion sickness.
  • May also be used off-label (not an FDA approved use but still commonly used for this reason) to relieve symptoms of vertigo associated with diseases such as labyrinthitis and Meniere's disease. May occasionally be given for the treatment of nausea during pregnancy or as a result of radiation therapy.
  • Not as sedating as some other medicines used for motion sickness.
  • Generic meclizine is available.


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • May cause drowsiness or dizziness and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcohol because it may enhance these side effects.
  • May also cause a dry mouth, a headache, tiredness, and rarely, blurred vision.
  • Not recommended for use in children under 12 years of age.
  • May not be suitable for people with asthma, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or prostate gland enlargement. The elderly or frail may be particularly sensitive to meclizine's effects.
  • May interact with a number of other drugs including those that also cause sedation or drugs that are also metabolized by CYP2D6 hepatic enzymes.
  • Rarely, allergic-type reactions to meclizine have been reported.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Meclizine relieves nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness; however, it takes approximately an hour to start working and may cause drowsiness.


  • Take one hour prior to travel when used to prevent motion sickness from developing. The dosage of meclizine may be repeated every 24 hours for the duration of the journey.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery if meclizine makes you drowsy or impairs your judgment. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking meclizine as this may add to its side effects.
  • Do not give meclizine to children under the age of 12.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Meclizine works in about an hour when used for motion sickness. It should be taken at least an hour before travel for maximal benefit. The effects of meclizine persist for 8 to 24 hours


Meclizine [Package insert]. Revised 01/2017. Major Pharmaceuticals

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use meclizine only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2018 Revision Date: 2017-08-24 02:39:55