Skip to main content
Medically Approved

Nausea medication: Prescription and over-the-counter options

twitter share buttonfacebook share buttonlinkedin share buttonemail article button
CausesPrescription optionsOTC optionsNatural remediesSummary
Nausea can cause discomfort, but plenty of medications are available to help. You can try prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications or natural alternatives.
Medically reviewed by Jennie Olopaade, PharmD, RPH
Written by Lily Frew
Updated on

Nausea is an uncomfortable symptom that can lead to vomiting. You might feel nauseous for many reasons, but you might not be able to identify what that reason is.

Discovering and treating the root cause can help stop the uncomfortable feeling of nausea.

Medications, including prescription and OTC options, are available to help you manage nausea. You might also want to try some natural remedies alongside medication.

Causes of nausea

A young person sitting in front of a laptop and some medication bottles holding a packet of nausea medication.
Photography by MTStock Studio/Getty Images

There are many reasons why you might experience nausea. Some of the most common include:

  • Motion sickness. Motion sickness occurs during travel and is caused by movement in a vehicle, leading to nausea or even vomiting. Nausea can affect anyone, but it’s most common in children.
  • Pregnancy: Often known as morning sickness (although it can happen at any time of day), nausea is common during pregnancy, mainly in the first trimester. Up to 10% of pregnant people require medication to manage their symptoms.
  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is where acid from your stomach comes back up your esophagus, often causing heartburn and nausea.
  • Diet: What you eat can cause nausea, including overeating or eating certain foods, including high fat foods.
  • Infection: Viruses and bacterial infections, commonly gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, may cause nausea.
  • Certain medications: Some medications cause nausea as a side effect. If this occurs, consider talking with a doctor about trying an alternative.
  • Chemotherapy: Nausea and vomiting are among the most common side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. Up to 40% of people having chemotherapy experience this side effect.

Prescription options

Medications that treat nausea and vomiting are called antiemetics. They treat the symptom of nausea and vomiting rather than the root cause, and doctors may prescribe them alongside other medications.

Antiemetic medications may also cause some side effects. The most common are mild headaches, sleepiness, or dizziness.

Antiemetics usually fall into one of the following groups:


Although people commonly use them to treat allergy symptoms, certain antihistamines can also treat nausea. You can typically buy antihistamines over the counter. Prescription examples include hydroxyzine (Atarax).

Antihistamines might cause side effects. The most common side effect is drowsiness.


These drugs block the pathway in your brain, leading to the vomiting center where the feelings of nausea develop.

The most common example is scopolamine (Transderm Scop). Scopolamine is a skin patch that releases the drug into your body through your skin rather than a pill you take. This means you can use it even if you are vomiting.

Serotonin-receptor antagonists

These are available in pill form or as an injection. Examples of these include:

Need a refill for ondansetron (Zofran)? You may be able to get an online prescription through Optum Perks in as little as 15 minutes with no video or appointment needed. Learn more here.

Man on phone in bed

100% online care

Treatment plans in 15 minutes or less for 40+ conditions.

Start consult now

Dopamine antagonists

These drugs work by blocking dopamine receptors in your brain. They’re most useful in treating nausea due to migraine. One example is prochlorperazine.

NK1 receptor antagonists

Doctors commonly prescribe these to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Examples approved for use in the United States include:

Doctors often prescribe them alongside serotonin-receptor antagonists and dexamethasone.

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

Pill bottle with text 'Starts at $4'

Free prescription coupons

Seriously … free. Explore prices that beat the competition 70% of the time.

Get free card

OTC options

OTC options can settle the stomach and prevent and treat nausea often due to motion sickness. Examples include:


OTC antihistamines that prevent and treat nausea include:

These generally treat motion sickness, but dimenhydrinate is safe for pregnant people to take to ease morning sickness.

Antacid medication

Bismuth subsalicylate, commonly known by its brand name Pepto-Bismol, is a very common OTC medication that you can take to settle your stomach. It helps ease nausea due to stomach flu.

Natural remedies

Alongside medications, you might want to try natural remedies to help ease your symptoms, especially if you aren’t sure what’s causing the nausea.

Natural remedies are also popular during pregnancy when people want to avoid taking medicines that could harm their unborn child.


Sometimes food can cause nausea. Keeping a food diary to see if particular foods trigger nausea regularly might help.

Research also shows that a bland diet full of low fat, soft, non-spicy foods, such as eggs, tofu, wheat, and bland vegetables, including carrots and spinach, might help. Also, cutting out triggering foods, including acidic fruits such as lemons and oranges, alcoholic drinks, and non-lean meat, might be effective.

This diet is gentle on your digestive system and might reduce problems. Before changing your diet, speak with a healthcare professional to ensure you still get all the nutrients you need.


People throughout history have used ginger as a natural remedy to soothe nausea. A 2016 review of studies found that ginger is generally effective at improving nausea symptoms caused by pregnancy and chemotherapy. One study found that ginger was just as effective as dimenhydrinate.

One significant benefit of ginger is that it does not cause side effects. It’s a common choice among pregnant people because there is little risk that it will harm an unborn baby.


Nausea is a very uncomfortable symptom that can disrupt your life. It’s very common during pregnancy and chemotherapy. What you eat, and car travel can also cause nausea.

Many antiemetic medications that treat nausea and vomiting are available. You can work with a healthcare professional to find which ones are right for you.

There are also some natural options that you can try alongside medications.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

Article resources