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What is Metoclopramide?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 May 2018
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Metoclopramide, sometimes known better by one its brand names Reglan®, is a medication that may be used to treat some disorders of the stomach, most particularly nausea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is usually used for a short period of time to improve symptoms, and most physicians may not advocate long-term use. The medication acts by causing the intestinal muscles to work more efficiently, producing less acid reflux and often ending nausea or vomiting.

In addition to people using metoclopramide for GERD, some people with diabetes may have a condition that damages the stomach nerves, called diabetic gastroparesis, and this causes nausea or vomiting, often after eating. For a short time, usually no longer than eight weeks, people may be prescribed this medication so that they can tolerate food better and so that the intestines will work better. Off label uses include its use to stop extreme morning sickness, but in general the medication has not been studied for safety in the developing fetus. Another use is to stimulate lactation and yet again, it is known the medication is excreted in breast milk, and may not be safe for infants.

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Most people tolerate metoclopramide well, but there are potential side effects. Some of the ones include frequent urination, and drowsiness or alternately sleeplessness. Some people will feel a little bit of nausea thought the medication often prevents this feeling, and others might suffer from headache. It is not unheard of for people to develop anxiety or depression when on this medication and in severe cases, people can become suicidal while taking it. Additional serious side effects are rare but include involuntary muscle contractions and tremor.

Allergic reaction to this medication is not a likely scenario, but symptoms of this could include difficult breathing, skin rash, and seizures. People should discuss possible side effects with doctors, and should be aware of when to contact a doctor if a side effect seems severe. In any case where depression or anxiety leads to suicidal thoughts, people should proceed to the nearest hospital for emergency help and treatment.

There are a number of medications that can interact with metoclopramide. People would obviously want to give their doctor a full list of medications they take prior to accepting a new prescription. Some drugs that may interact include those to treat psychosis and bipolar disorder, called antipsychotics. Some antibiotics, some medications for the heart, and certain antidepressants can affect how well metoclopramide works. Additionally, this medication’s use may be contraindicated if people have Parkinson’s disease, a history of depression, bleeding in the intestines, a history of seizures or many types of cardiovascular disease.

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