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What Is Dronabinol?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dronabinol is a prescription medication made from a synthetic form of marijuana and is used to treat symptoms such as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. This drug may also be used for patients with similar symptoms caused by AIDS and functions by affecting the area of the brain that controls appetite and nausea. In most cases, dronabinol is used only when other methods of treatment have not been successful at controlling nausea and vomiting. Possible side effects of this medication include increased heart rate, changes in mood, and paranoia. Any specific questions or concerns about the use of dronabinol in an individual situation should be discussed with the prescribing physician or another member of the medical staff.

Known as a cannabinoid drug, dronabinol is a synthetic medication that is designed to act in much the same way as marijuana. Medical procedures such as chemotherapy and illnesses such as AIDS can cause moderate to severe nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. If other medications have not been able to successfully manage these symptoms, a doctor may prescribe dronabinol. This drug is available in the form of an oral capsule and should be used exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Individualized dosing instructions vary according to the specific needs of the patient as well as the condition being treated.

Most side effects of dronabinol are relatively mild and do not cause any significant health concerns, but any bothersome symptoms that develop after beginning treatment with this medication should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation. The most frequently reported side effect of medications in this class is a feeling of being high or euphoric. Dizziness is also common, so extreme caution should be used when performing any activities that require a significant amount of focus or concentration. Fear, paranoia, or a feeling of warmth may occur, but these symptoms usually go away as the body adjusts to the medication.

Potentially serious side effects of dronabinol may include mood swings, paranoia, or behavioral changes. Hallucinations or seizures are also possible and should be reported to a doctor right away. Heart palpitations, chest pain, or difficulty breathing should prompt emergency medical care. A type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can cause the tongue and throat to swell excessively, inhibiting the ability to breathe and preventing oxygen from reaching the cells and tissues of the body. Without immediate treatment, anaphylaxis can cause permanent brain damage or lead to death within a matter of minutes.

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