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How you take anti sickness drugs

There are different ways of having anti sickness drugs. Sometimes you will be given medicines to swallow, but this isn’t always possible.

Ways of taking anti sickness drugs

The easiest way to take any drug is by swallowing a tablet or liquid medicine. But, if the drug you need can't be swallowed or because you have difficulty swallowing for some reason, this isn't possible.

When you are feeling sick, it can be very difficult to take medicines by mouth (orally). And there is the added problem that if you are sick after you've taken it, you don't always know whether you've brought it up or not.

With cancer drug treatment, you usually have anti sickness drugs as injections with the treatment and then anti sickness tablets to take home with you afterwards.

Problems swallowing medicines

You could have your drugs by injection or through a drip if you are in hospital and are having problems with swallowing medicines. Drugs given by an injection usually work very quickly.

An injection into a vein is called an intravenous injection (IV). You have the injection through a small tube (cannula) put into a vein in one of your arms. This can stay in for a few days if needed.

Diagram showing a cannula

You can have anti sickness drugs through your central line, if you have one. A central line is a long flexible plastic tube. These are called central lines because they end up in a central blood vessel in your chest, close to your heart.

 

Diagram showing a central line

At home

Speak to your doctor or nurse if you are at home and tablets are causing you problems. They might suggest:

  • a tablet you can dissolve under your tongue to get a drug into your bloodstream very quickly
  • a patch that sticks on your skin like a plaster, the drug slowly passes through your skin into your body
  • a syringe pump to give a continuous slow infusion of anti sickness drugs

Anti sickness medicines that can be given through a syringe pump include:

  • metoclopramide
  • haloperidol
  • prochlorperazine
  • levomepromazine
  • cyclizine

Your district nurse can also give you injections of anti sickness drug just under the skin once or twice a day. Or you can have the drug through a small plastic tube taped to the skin, so you don't have to have an injection under your skin each time.

Last reviewed: 
10 Jan 2018
  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT DeVita, S Hellman, SA Rosenberg, TS Lawrence
    Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Symptom management in advanced cancer (4th edition)
    R Twycross, A Wilcock and S Toller
    Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd, 2009

  • The Royal Marsden Hospital Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (9th Edition)
    L Dougherty and S Lister (Editors)
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Electronic Medicines Compendium

    Accessed January 2018

  • Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine (5th Edition)

    N I Cherny and others (Editors)

    Oxford University Press, 2015

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