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What is Metoclopramide Hydrochloride?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Metoclopramide hydrochloride is a medication used to treat nausea and vomiting, as well as gastroparesis, where the motility of the intestinal tract is limited and patients have trouble passing food. This drug is available in the form of tablets or injections and can be prescribed as part of the overall plan for managing a disease, or as a specific treatment for an issue like gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). Patients should review the risks carefully before taking the drug to determine if it is an appropriate choice for them.

This medication works by binding to dopamine 2 receptors in the nervous system. It increases gastrointestinal motility, making the gut more active. This encourages the stomach to empty more quickly and helps move food through the intestines. It also has antiemetic effects, reducing vomiting in a patient. The length of time a patient needs to stay on the drug can vary, depending on why it is prescribed.

Common side effects of metoclopramide hydrochloride include fatigue and diarrhea. The drug can also have neurological effects, leading to more severe issues like tardive dyskinesia, where patients experience uncontrolled movements. Muscle stiffness and depression can also be experienced. Patients with a history of Parkinson's disease or seizure disorders should not take metoclopramide hydrochloride, and the drug can also interact badly with other medications, like opiates, making it important to go over a complete list of all medications being taken when this drug is prescribed.

One of the most serious potential risks of metoclopramide hydrochloride is the potential that a patient will develop tardive dyskinesia and that the involuntary movements will persist even after the patient is taken off the drug. This can create permanent impairments in addition to attracting unwanted attention. This risk is weighed when the medicine is prescribed to determine if it outweighs the benefits of taking the drug, and patients may be prescribed as short a course as possible to reduce the risks of developing complications.

This medication is available by prescription only, and should be stored in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children and animals. It is important to take it exactly as prescribed, and to be careful about the timing of doses to make sure it is taken consistently and appropriately. Patients who start to develop behavioral changes, involuntary movements, or muscle stiffness while taking metoclopramide hydrochloride should contact their doctors immediately to evaluate their conditions and see if the medication regimen needs to be changed.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
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