Side effects of anti sickness drugs | Cancer Research UK
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What side effects are

Side effects are unwanted or unpleasant effects of a treatment. All drugs have side effects. Different drugs have different side effects. Some side effects are very rare and happen in only a few people. Drug companies are obliged by law to list all the side effects that have been reported to them, however rare. This can make the list of side effects inside the drug packet seem very alarming. Your doctor or nurse should tell you about the most likely side effects of drugs before you take them. If you are worried, you can ask your doctor or nurse for more information.

Below is a list of some of the side effects of anti sickness drugs. You may get none, one, or a few of these side effects. If you have any side effects, let your doctor or nurse know as soon as possible. Your doctor can usually give you other medicines to help reduce the side effects. Or they may give you a different type of anti sickness drug.


Side effects of serotonin blockers

Examples of serotonin blockers are ondansetron (Zofran) and granisetron (Kytril). The most common side effects include

  • Headaches
  • Constipation – drinking plenty of fluids, eating a high fibre diet and taking exercise can all help but you may need other medicines (laxatives). When you take serotonin blockers for chemotherapy sickness, you have them for a short period only so that they are less likely to cause constipation

Side effects of steroids

The side effects depend on the type of steroid you have, the dose and how long you take it for. The most common steroid given for sickness from chemotherapy is dexamethasone. You usually have it before chemotherapy and for a few days afterwards. Side effects include

  • Trouble sleeping – taking them in the morning may help
  • Anxiety and fidgeting
  • Flushing or tingling (when injected) but this is rare
  • Pain, itching or tingling in the vagina in women or between the legs (perineum) in men (when injected quickly) – this can be a bit alarming, but is not serious and usually lasts less than a minute
  • Indigestion
  • Fungal infection (thrush) – this is also called candidiasis

Side effects of antihistamines and sedatives

These types of drugs include cyclizine, lorazepam and haloperidol. One of the side effects common to all these drugs is drowsiness.


Side effects of Maxolon and Stemetil

The other names for these drugs are metoclopramide (Maxolon) and prochlorperazine (Stemetil). They can cause twitching in your arms, legs or face. This is rare, but more likely in children and young adults. If you notice this side effect, stop taking the drug and let your doctor or nurse know.


Side effects of domperidone (Motilium)

A common side effect is a dry mouth. Although rare, domperidone can cause uncontrolled movements or twitching. This side effect is more likely to happen in children. You must let your doctor or nurse know if you get this side effect.


Side effects of aprepitant (Emend)

Some of the common side effects of aprepitant and fosaprepitant (Ivemend) include

  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
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Updated: 31 January 2015