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Zofran Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Oct 26, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm

How it works

  • Zofran is a brand (trade) name for ondansetron. Ondansetron treats and prevents nausea and vomiting by an unknown mechanism, possibly by a direct effect on the CTZ (the area of the brain associated with vomiting), the vagus nerve or both. The neurotransmitter, serotonin, appears to play a role in ondansetron's effect.
  • Zofran belongs to the class of medicines known as 5-HT3 receptor antagonists.

Upsides

  • Effective for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, including highly emetogenic (a high probability of causing vomiting) chemotherapy.
  • May also be used to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with radiotherapy - this includes total body irradiation or single or multiple high-dose or daily fractions to the abdomen.
  • Effective at preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting.
  • Zofran is available as tablets, orally disintegrating tablets, and solution.
  • Zofran is available as a generic under the name ondansetron.

Downsides

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:

  • Tiredness, a headache, drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, flushing, itching, slowed heart rate, raised body temperature, and diarrhea.
  • Rarely may cause hiccups, blurred vision or vision loss, a rash or liver disturbances, or affect heartbeat (more likely at higher dosages).
  • Interaction or overdosage may cause serotonin syndrome (symptoms include agitation, hallucinations, fast heart rate, dizziness, muscle tremor, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
  • May interact with some medications including apomorphine (may cause a profound drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness), and drugs metabolized by CYP3A4 (although few clinically significant interactions have been reported).
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with liver disease or a personal or family history of long QT syndrome (a heart rhythm disorder).
  • Orally disintegrating Zofran tablets may contain phenylalanine. Tell your doctor if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).

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

  • Zofran relieves and prevents nausea and vomiting. Side effects may include constipation and headache.

Tips

  • Take as directed. May be taken with or without food.
  • When used to prevent nausea associated with chemotherapy, Zofran is usually taken 30 minutes before the chemotherapy. When used to prevent nausea associated with radiotherapy, Zofran is usually taken one-to-two hours before the radiotherapy. When used to prevent nausea associated with surgery, Zofran is usually taken one hour before anesthesia.
  • Zofran orally disintegrating tablets and Zofran solution are interchangeable.
  • When taking the orally disintegrating tablets, peel back the foil (do not attempt to push the tablet through the foil). Allow the tablet to dissolve in your mouth without chewing.
  • When taking ondansetron oral solution, measure the correct dosage with the dosing syringe provided.
  • Consider laxatives to relieve or prevent constipation associated with ondansetron.
  • Monitor for serotonin syndrome (symptoms include mental status changes [such as agitation, hallucinations, coma, delirium]), fast heart rate, dizziness, flushing, muscle tremor or rigidity and stomach symptoms [including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea]).
  • Report to your doctor any other unusual side effects.
  • If ondansetron makes you dizzy or drowsy, do not drive or operate machinery while affected and avoid alcohol.

Response and Effectiveness

  • The peak effect of Zofran is reached within 1.5-2 hours. The onset of effect is faster with the orally disintegrating or liquid form.

References

Zofran (ondansetron) [Package Insert] Revised 10/2016. GlaxoSmithKline LLC https://www.drugs.com/pro/zofran.html

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Zofran only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2018 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2017-10-26 02:05:11

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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