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- What is scopolamine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for scopolamine?
- Is scopolamine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for scopolamine?
- What are the side effects of scopolamine?
- What is the dosage for scopolamine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with scopolamine?
- Is scopolamine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about scopolamine?
What is scopolamine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Scopolamine is an oral, intravenous, ophthalmic or topical drug with many uses including the prevention of motion sickness. Transderm Scop is scopolamine administered topically (through the skin or transdermally) via a special delivery system that gradually releases scopolamine onto the skin over a period of three days. Scopolamine is absorbed into the body through the skin. It is not clear how scopolamine prevents nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness. The vestibular part of the ear is very important for balance. When a person who is susceptible to motion sickness experiences motion, the vestibule sends a signal through nerves to the vomiting center in the brain, and vomiting occurs. Acetylcholine is a chemical that nerves use to transmit messages to each other (a neurotransmitter). Scientists believe that scopolamine prevents communication between the nerves of the vestibule and the vomiting center in the brain by blocking the action of acetylcholine (anticholinergic effect). Scopolamine also may work directly on the vomiting center. Scopolamine must be taken before the onset of motion sickness to be effective. The FDA approved Transderm Scop in December 1979.
What are the side effects of scopolamine?
The most common side effects are:
Scopolamine may worsen narrow angle glaucoma, cause difficulty urinating and lead to dry, itchy eyes. Some patients may experience disorientation and confusion. If used more than 3 days some patients may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. Some patches may cause burns of the skin if worn during an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Patients should tell their health care professional that they are using a medication patch prior to receiving an MRI scan, and the patch should be removed.
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What is the dosage for scopolamine?
To prevent nausea after surgery 1 patch is applied behind the ear (both ears for caesarian section) 1 hour before surgery and left in place for 24 hours.
The recommended adult dose for preventing motion sickness is one disc every three days. The disc is applied to the hairless area behind the ear at least 4 hours before the effects are desired. If therapy is needed for more than three days, the first disc is discarded, and a second disc is applied behind the opposite ear. To prevent contact with eyes and visual disturbances, the hands should be washed with soap and water after handling the patch.
Which drugs or supplements interact with scopolamine?
Alcohol, tranquilizers, sedatives, and other drugs that cause drowsiness may worsen the drowsiness caused by scopolamine. Scopolamine slows passage of materials including drugs through the stomach and intestines. This may reduce the absorption of some drugs. Drugs that have anticholinergic effects increase the anticholinergic side effects of scopolamine. Examples of such drugs include belladonna alkaloids, antihistamines (including meclizine [Antivert, Bonine, Meni-D, Antrizine]), tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants.
Is scopolamine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Use in pregnant women has not been adequately evaluated.
Scopolamine is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about scopolamine?
What preparations of scopolamine are available?
Disc (Patch): 1 mg over 72 hours
How should I keep scopolamine stored?
Transderm Scop should be stored at room temperature 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Scopolamine (Transderm-Scop) is a medication prescribed for the prevention of nausea and vomiting after surgery and from motion sickness. Side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Anticholinergic or antispasmodic (generic name) drugs include prescription medications used to treat a variety of medical conditions like:
- muscle spasms,
- breathing problems,
- movement disorders,
- motion sickness,
- and gastrointestinal cramps.
Examples of anticholinergic (antispasmodic) drugs include:
- Parkinson's disease medications,
- Benadryl, antipsychotics,
- and Levsin.
Examples of anticholinergic drugs for overactive bladder include:
- and Sanctura.
Examples of anticholinergic antidepressant medications include:
- and Norpranmin.
Examples of anticholinergic muscle relaxants include:
- and Norflex.
Anticholinergic motion sickness medications include:
- and respiratory medications.
Anticholinergic drug side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosing, and pregnancy and safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Drug InteractionsDrug interactions occur frequently. Get facts about the types of drug interactions, what substances or other things that may interact with drugs such as OTC drug and prescription drugs, vitamins, food(s) (grapefruit), and laboratory tests. Find out how to protect yourself from potential drug interactions.
Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
Motion Sickness (Sea Sickness, Car Sickness)
Motion sickness is a feeling of unwellness caused by the inner ear and balance systems. Motion sickness can include sea sickness, car sickness, and train or plane sickness. Symptoms include:
- cold sweats, and
- pale skin.
Treatment for motion sickness include home remedies such as ginger, not eating large or fatty meals prior to traveling, and OTC and prescription medications.
Surgery QuestionsSurgery is the branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or injury. Prior to surgery you might consider asking your surgeon questions about the operation (procedure).
Travel MedicineTravelers should prepare for their trip by visiting their physician to get the proper vaccinations and obtain the necessary medication if they have a medical condition or chronic disease. Diseases that travelers may pick up from contaminated water or food, insect or animal bites, or from other people include:
- meningococcal meningitis,
- yellow fever,
- hepatitis A,
- typhoid fever,
- polio, and
Take the Vertigo QuizTake the quiz and find out the causes, symptoms, treatments, and ways to prevent the confusing balance disorder called vertigo.
Vertigo OverviewVertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or spinal cord or a problem within in the inner ear. Head injuries, certain medications, and female gender are associated with a higher risk of vertigo. Medical history, a physical exam, and sometimes an MRI or CT scan are required to diagnose vertigo. The treatment of vertigo may include:
- special exercises to reposition loose crystals in the inner ear, or
- exercises designed to help the patient re-establish a sense of equilibrium.