Names: Anti-nausea is the word for drugs that prevent vomiting and nausea. In migraine therapy, the two anti-nausea drugs are dimenhydrinate (such as brand name Dramamine and Gravol), or metoclopramide (brand name Maxeran). In Canada, you need a doctor’s prescription for metoclopramide. Dimenhydrinate is available over-the-counter.
How anti-nausea medication works: Many people feel nauseated, or like they want to vomit, when they have a migraine taking an anti-nausea can help to stop that feeling. Anti-nausea drugs also seem to decrease pain and increase feelings of sleepiness. 1 As sleep is the best therapy for a migraine attack in children, feeling drowsy is a good thing. Anti-nausea drugs do not appear to improve headache pain or reduce the length of migraines once they are already happening.
Evidence in children: Healthcare practitioners generally agree that if someone is feeling nauseated with his or her migraines then it is good practice to take an anti-nausea drug and advise such. 1–4
Cautions: If someone is already vomiting, oral drugs will not work for their migraine or to reduce their nausea. Metoclopramide can cause muscle-spasm. Dimenhydrinate can cause dry mouth or blurred vision.
1. Robertson, W. Migraine in Children: Practice Essentials, Overview, Phases of a Migraine Attack. (2018).
2. Gladstone, J. P., Eross, E. J. & Dodick, D. W. Migraine in special populations: Treatment strategies for children and adolescents, pregnant women, and the elderly. Postgrad. Med. 115, 39–50 (2004).
3. Láinez, M. J., García-Casado, A. & Gascón, F. Optimal management of severe nausea and vomiting in migraine: improving patient outcomes. Patient Relat. Outcome Meas. 4, 61–73 (2013).
4. Teleanu, R. I., Vladacenco, O., Teleanu, D. M. & Epure, D. A. Treatment of Pediatric Migraine: a Review. Mædica 11, 136–143 (2016).