Gastroenterology: Medications

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All About Compazine (prochlorperazine)

Many patients are not as well-informed about prescription medications as they ought to be. We believe that the more you know about your medications, the better. Therefore, we have written this leaflet to explain more about Compazine and to explain the importance of taking it properly.

If any of this information causes you concern or if you want additional information about your medicine and its use, please check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Remember to keep all prescription drugs beyond the sight and reach of children when not in use. Store all drugs in their original labeled containers; the place of storage should be cool, dry, and away from light. Always read the label before each use.

What is Compazine? Introduced in 1956, Compazine is a man-made compound that is usually taken by mouth. In high doses, it is used to treat nervous disorders; in low doses, it is primarily used to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting. It acts directly on the vomiting center of the brain.

Other common brand names are Eskatrol, Chlorpazine, Prochlor-Iso, Pro-Iso, and Stemetil. The generic form known as prochlorperazine (proh-klor-PER- a-zeen) is equally safe and effective.

What Compazine is not.

Compazine does not heal or cure any disease. It merely controls symptoms. Although Compazine can treat nausea and vomiting from many causes, it does not prevent vertigo or motion sickness. Compazine is not habit-forming and is unlikely to cause sexual dysfunction.

How does Compazine work?

Although the exact mechanism of how Compazine works is uncertain, it is known that Compazine acts to reduce nausea and vomiting by a direct blocking action on the "vomiting center" of the brain.

Taking Compazine properly

    1. Take the dose as prescribed. There is no fixed rule for the correct dose of Compazine. Each case is different. Initially, your doctor determines what dose is best for you on the basis of your age, weight, the severity of your symptoms, and any other medical conditions that you may have. As with all medications, the goal is to control your symptoms with the lowest possible dose of Compazine. Do not increase this dosage on your own; a serious overdosage may result.

    Often given by injection in the hospital, Compazine is also available in three convenient forms for home use:

      By tablet, the typical dose is one 10 mg. tablet given two to three times per day. While each dose requires about 30 minutes to take effect, nausea remains controlled for approximately 4 hours.

      The timed-released capsule takes a little longer to take effect but is effective for about 12 hours. No more than two should be taken within 24 hours.

      Compazine also comes in the form of a rectal suppository. This is helpful when severe vomiting prevents the use of medication by mouth. Insert the suppository deep into your rectal canal and do not expel it. It will be absorbed directly into the blood stream via the intestinal wall. This 25 mg. suppository should be used no more than twice a day.

    2. Compazine can be taken both on an empty stomach and with food or milk. No foods or beverages are restricted while taking Compazine. Alcohol should be avoided, however, since it may intensify the sedative effect of this drug.

    3. If you forget a dose, take the prescribed dose of the medication as soon as you remember, then resume your normal schedule. If your next dose is due within 2 hours, however, simply skip the missed dose. While an occasional extra dose is unlikely to harm you, it may lead to excessive drowsiness. Do not intentionally double doses.

    4. It is permissible to stop taking this medication on your own. Since Compazine acts only to control symptoms rather than to heal or cure any disease, it is safe to stop taking this medication once your symptoms improve. You can then resume the drug as needed to control nausea or vomiting.

What are the side effects?

All medicines, even those purchased without a prescription, may sometimes produce unwanted side effects. In general, the risk of side effects depends on the dosage of Compazine and the duration of treatment. Be sure to keep all your scheduled appointments so that your doctor can be sure the medication is working properly and check for possible side effects.

These side effects should be reported to your doctor:

  • Skin rash, severe itching
  • Unexplained fever or severe sore throat
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unexplained skin blistering and peeling
  • Jaundice, yellow skin or eyes
  • Muscle spasms of face, jaw, neck
  • Muscular rigidity, tremors, slowed movements
  • Restlessness, tremors
  • Unsteady gait
  • Difficulty urinating
The following side effects usually do not require medical attention. They often will go away with a reduction in dosage or as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. However, should any of these side effects persist or become bothersome, check with your doctor:
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Decreased sweating
    Dry mouth can be treated by chewing gum or ice. To avoid dizziness when you stand, arise slowly and contract the muscles of your legs for a few moments before you stand. Occasionally, side effects not listed above may occur. If you experience any other symptoms, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

The continual use of this drug for more than several months can lead to a potentially irreversible condition known as tardive dyskinesia which causes involuntary movements of the eyes, mouth, and tongue. Therefore, you should limit the use of this medication.

Do not take Compazine if you have active liver disease or Parkinson's disease. Be certain to inform your doctor if you have been diagnosed with severe kidney disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, or have a bone marrow or blood disease. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future as it is best to avoid all potent prescription drugs during pregnancy and lactation whenever possible. Use caution in very hot weather as this drug may increase your susceptibility to heat stroke. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, use sun blocks and wear protective clothing.

In some individuals, Compazine can cause drowsiness. You should not drive or operate any dangerous machinery until you have learned how this drug affects you. Avoid alcohol or sedatives while on Compazine. It increases the sedative and intoxicating effect of alcohol. Because of reduced sweating avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat.


Compazine is a powerful drug that can effectively treat nausea. As with all medications, however, side effects may occur. You can best limit problems with this medication by taking it exactly as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with your doctor.

Text & Images Courtesy of Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
© Dr. Robert Fusco, Three Rivers Endoscopy Center, All Rights Reserved

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