Scopolamine for motion sickness

A prescription drug called scopolamine may prevent symptoms of motion sickness if it is used before travel. Scopolamine is available in a patch called Transderm Scop. Scopolamine prevents nausea and vomiting by blocking signals from the inner ear to the brain.

You place the coin-sized Transderm Scop patch behind your ear about 4 to 8 hours before travel. It can be worn for 3 days, so it may be especially helpful for lengthy exposure to motion, such as on a cruise. You can use another patch at the end of the 3 days for longer trips.

It is important to wash your hands with soap and water after placing or removing the patch. Otherwise, you might rub your eyes and get medicine on them, increasing the risk of side effects such as blurred vision.

Scopolamine may cause side effects such as sleepiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. Less common side effects include confusion, skin rashes, and difficulty urinating.

Those who should avoid this medicine include older people, pregnant women, people who have glaucoma, and people who have difficulty urinating (such as from an enlarged prostate). Also, people who have an obstruction of the valve (pylorus) between the stomach and the small intestine—usually children—should avoid this medicine.

Last Updated: April 2, 2009

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