Cyclizine for sickness

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Cyclizine helps to reduce sickness and dizziness.

It can be taken by adults and by children over 6 years of age.

The most common side-effects are a dry mouth and feeling drowsy.
Type of medicineAn antihistamine
Used forSickness caused by balance or movement problems such as vertigo, travel sickness, and problems affecting the inner ear
Available asTablets

Cyclizine is used to treat sickness, such as that caused by problems affecting the inner ear and balance, and travel sickness. It is an antihistamine.

Nerves situated inside your ear send messages to your brain with information about your movement. Along with messages from your eyes and muscles, these nerves help your body to maintain a good sense of balance. If the nerves in one of your ears send too many, too few, or wrong messages to your brain, it conflicts with the messages sent from your other ear, your eyes, or your body. Your brain then gets confused and this can cause dizziness and a spinning sensation (vertigo), and can make you feel sick.

Travel sickness is caused by repeated unusual movements during travelling. These repeated movements, such as going over bumps or around in a circle, send lots of messages to your brain. The balance mechanism in your ear sends different signals to those from your eyes, which results in your brain receiving mixed and confusing messages. This is what causes you to feel sick.

Cyclizine helps reduce the feelings of sickness and vertigo caused by problems such as these. It is available from a pharmacy, without a prescription, and can be taken by adults and by children over the age of 6 years.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking cyclizine it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or if you have heart failure.
  • If you have increased pressure in your eye, a condition called glaucoma.
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have prostate problems, or have been experiencing difficulty passing urine.
  • If you know you have a blockage in your small intestines.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about cyclizine, and it will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
  • Take cyclizine exactly as your doctor or pharmacist tells you to. It can be taken up to three times a day.
  • If you are taking cyclizine to prevent travel sickness, take the first tablet 1-2 hours before you are due to travel. If you are going on a long journey, you can then take further doses every eight hours if needed. The tablets can be crushed to make them easier to swallow. If you are giving cyclizine to a child, check the label carefully to make sure you are giving the correct dose for the age of your child - the dose for children aged 6-12 years is half a tablet.
  • Cyclizine can cause drowsiness and blurred vision. Although this is rare following a single dose of cyclizine, it can occur if it is taken more regularly. If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Alcohol will make the drowsiness worse, so it is best not to drink alcohol while you are on cyclizine.
  • If you are having an operation or any treatment (particularly if it is to test for an allergy), please tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking cyclizine.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with cyclizine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common cyclizine side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling drowsy, blurred visionDo not drive or use tools or machines while affected. Do not drink alcohol
Other less common cyclizine side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Dry mouthTry chewing sugar-free sweets or sugar-free gum
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
ConstipationTry to eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Skin rash, difficulty passing urine, feeling restless or excited (particulary in children and the elderly), twitchingStop taking cyclizine and speak to your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you buy any medicines 'over the counter', always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 71st Edition (March-September 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
3304 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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