Why is this medication prescribed?
Promethazine is used to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis (runny nose and watery eyes caused by allergy to pollen, mold or dust), allergic conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes caused by allergies), allergic skin reactions, and allergic reactions to blood or plasma products. Promethazine is used with other medications to treat anaphylaxis (sudden, severe allergic reactions) and the symptoms of the common cold such as sneezing, cough, and runny nose. Promethazine is also used to relax and sedate patients before and after surgery, during labor, and at other times. Promethazine is also used to prevent and control nausea and vomiting that may occur after surgery, and with other medications to help relieve pain after surgery. Promethazine is also used to prevent and treat motion sickness. Promethazine helps control symptoms, but will not treat the cause of the symptoms or speed recovery. Promethazine is in a class of medications called phenothiazines. It works by blocking the action of a certain natural substance in the body.
How should this medicine be used?
Promethazine comes as a tablet and syrup (liquid) to take by mouth and as a suppository to use rectally.When promethazine is used to treat allergies, it is usually taken one to four times daily, before meals and/or at bedtime. When promethazine is used to relieve cold symptoms, it is usually taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed. When promethazine is used to treat motion sickness, it is taken 30 to 60 minutes before travel and again after 8 to 12 hours if needed. On longer trips, promethazine is usually taken in the morning and before the evening meal on each day of travel. When promethazine is used to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting it is usually taken every 4 to 6 hours as needed. Promethazine may also be taken at bedtime the night before surgery to relieve anxiety and produce quiet sleep. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take promethazine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Promethazine suppositories are for rectal use only. Do not try to swallow the suppositories or insert in any other part of your body.
If you are taking promethazine liquid, do not use a household spoon to measure your dose. Use the measuring spoon or cup that came with the medication or use a spoon made especially for measuring medication.
To insert a promethazine suppository, follow these steps:
- If the suppository feels soft, hold it under cold, running water for 1 minute. Remove the wrapper.
- Dip the tip of the suppository in water.
- Lie down on your left side and raise your right knee to your chest. (A left-handed person should lie on the right side and raise the left knee.)
- Using your finger, insert the suppository into the rectum, about 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 centimeters) in children who are 2 years of age older and 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in adults. Hold it in place for a few moments.
- Stand up after about 15 minutes. Wash your hands thoroughly and resume your normal activities.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking promethazine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to promethazine, other phenothiazines (certain medications used to treat mental illness, nausea, vomiting, severe hiccups, and other conditions) or any other medications. Also tell your doctor and pharmacist if you have ever had an unusual or unexpected reaction when you took promethazine, another phenothiazine, or any other medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not know if a medication you are allergic to is a phenothiazine.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine (Asendin), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil); antihistamines; azathioprine (Imuran);barbiturates such as phenobarbital (Luminal); cancer chemotherapy; epinephrine (Epipen); ipratropium (Atrovent)medications for anxiety, irritable bowel disease, mental illness, motion sickness, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, ulcers, or urinary problems; monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar); narcotics and other pain medication; sedatives; sleeping pills;and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had an enlarged prostate (a male reproductive gland); glaucoma (a condition in which increased pressure in the eye can lead to gradual loss of vision); seizures; ulcers; blockage in the passage between the stomach and intestine; blockage in the bladder; asthma or other lung disease; sleep apnea; cancer;any condition that affects the production of blood cells in your bone marrow; or heart or liver disease. If you will be giving promethazine to a child, also tell the child’s doctor if the child has any of the following symptoms before he or she receives the medication: vomiting, listlessness, drowsiness, confusion, aggression, seizures, yellowing of the skin or eyes, weakness, or flu-like symptoms. Also tell the child’s doctor if the child has not been drinking normally, has had excessive vomiting or diarrhea, or appears dehydrated.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking promethazine, call your doctor.
- talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking promethazine if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take promethazine because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same conditions.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking promethazine.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you. If you are giving promethazine to a child, watch the child to be sure he or she does not get hurt while riding a bike or participating in other activities that could be dangerous.
- ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking this medication. Alcohol can make the side effects of promethazine worse.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Promethazine may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.