Cyclizine for sickness

Cyclizine helps to reduce sickness and dizziness.

It may 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 medicine Antihistamine
Used for Sickness caused by balance or movement problems such as vertigo, travel sickness, and problems affecting the inner ear
Available as Tablets

Cyclizine is used to treat sickness, travel sickness, and problems affecting the inner ear and balance. 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 vertigo (a spinning sensation), 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 on prescription, or you can buy it at pharmacies, without a prescription. It 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 may 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, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or heart problems.
  • If you have glaucoma (increased pressure in your eye).
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have Parkinson's disease.
  • 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 porphyria (a rare inherited blood disorder).
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about cyclizine and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take cyclizine exactly as your doctor or pharmacist has told you to. It is usually taken three times daily.
  • If you are taking cyclizine to relieve travel sickness, take the first dose 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. If you are giving cyclizine to a child, check the label carefully to make sure you are giving the correct doses for the age of your child. Make sure you leave eight hours between each dose.
  • Cyclizine may cause drowsiness and blurred vision. Although this is rare following a single dose of cyclizine, it may 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), tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking cyclizine.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with an antihistamine.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Possible cyclizine side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling drowsy, blurred eyesight This is unlikely, but if it happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol
Dry mouth Try chewing sugar-free sweets or gum
Constipation Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Skin rash, difficulty passing urine, feeling restless Stop taking cyclizine and speak to your doctor about these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • 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.

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; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) 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
Last Checked:
05/02/2013
Document ID:
3304 (v23)
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