Updated: May 26
A few weeks ago I was gearing up to jump on a boat. The captain insisted that everyone on board take Dramamine, which everyone there knew as “motion sickness tablets” incase anyone felt seasick. While I, myself, don’t really experience motion sickness, I’m not often out in the deep sea, so I decided to take his advice.
I still believe that this was the right call because it only took about 30 minutes for 2 people to start vomiting into plastic bags, and sometimes, not making it completely into the bag. So why am I giving you the gross details? Well, I mention this because Dramamine wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be.
Dramamine, also called dimenhydrinate, is an over-the-counter antihistamine medication. These medications are common, and you might recognize other antihistamine medications, such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl. While it is a common over-the-counter medication, that does not mean that it comes without side effects. It is an effective drug at preventing motion sickness, however for people who have anxiety, I’m not sure I would recommend it. Here's why...
3 common adverse effects that you may experience when taking dimenhydrinate
1. DRY MOUTH
A dry mouth is often associated with cannabis, aka weed, however, Dramamine can cause this feeling as well. Because of this, it is recommended to drink a lot of water after taking the motion sickness pill. This may seem straightforward, however if you’re taking the medication because you're in motion, you may be trying to limit your water intake if there is no easy access to a toilet.
2. DRY EYES AND BLURRY VISION
Similar to dry mouth, dimenhydrinate can also cause eye dryness and blurred vision. This can be especially disorienting when your vision starts to blur. If you do intend on taking motion sickness medicine like Dramamine, it is recommended to keep eye drops handy for lubrication if your eyes do get uncomfortably dry.
3. DIZZINESS AND SLEEPINESS
Similar to Benadryl, Dramamine can make you feel drowsy. It also may sound counter-intuitive because Dramamine is meant to help with dizziness, yet it can cause dizziness too. Well, just because it can relieve motion sickness, it does not mean that it won’t come with similar undesirable effects, such as dizziness, which is also, unfortunately, a side effect of motion sickness as well.
Because it can already make you feel dizzy and sleepy, it’s recommended not to drink alcohol while taking Dramamine.
While the side effects of Dramamine only last while the drug is in your system, they can still be scary and uncomfortable if you are not expecting them. These negative effects are common enough that some people choose to misuse the drug and take it at higher doses. When taken at high doses, Dramamine can cause “severe confusion, euphoria, and hallucinations,” however more studies are needed to determine the full scope of negative effects of the medication at higher noses.
My trip in the deep sea
Shortly after taking Dramamine, we head out into the open waters to see if we can see any whales. I’m settling into my seat and getting excited for the day’s activities. We are crashing over waves at high speed, and I turn to my partner and say “my body feels weird. I think the Dramamine is making me feel loopy.” He says he doesn’t feel a thing, and it is probably in my head. This is a normal response because I tend to lean on the anxious side of life, so I nodded and kept looking ahead as we continued to bob along.
This doesn’t last long, and I turn to him saying that I have dry mouth and am also having trouble focusing on things around me. He tells me to focus on breathing and drink some water, however I know that I won’t be able to go to the bathroom for ages, so more than a couple sips were out of the question.
I’m starting to really get myself worked up, so I turn to the only other English speakers on the boat, who happen to be a lovely older couple from Vermont. Finding comfort in people who look around my parents’ age is apparently a favorite pastime of mine. I jokingly, but not so jokingly, tell them that I am not feeling well at all. They laugh, which actually helped, and explained to me that while they aren’t used to taking Dramamine either, their daughter takes it often because she likes the feeling. This gives me some relief because I start to rule out “allergic reaction to Dramamine” from my list of potential issues at play. They tell me it’s normal to feel dizzy and thirsty, so they agreed that I should also just drink the water.
So what did I do? I chugged some water and focused on each wave as they passed by. After a while, I started to relax and realize that I was perfectly fine. When we got off the boat, my partner finally told me that he didn’t want to freak me out, but I had started slurring my words shortly after we took the motion sickness pills. I felt validated, and when we got service, I proceeded to search "side effects" online and realize that my symptoms were normal.
Would I take it again?
After that experience, I would say that Dramamine isn’t for me. Because I am an anxious person, common side effects of blurred vision, dizziness and dry mouth are all things that make me feel out of control of my own body. However, while Dramamine isn’t for me, that doesn’t mean that it will hurt you. Dangerous side effects from Dramamine usually only occur if someone has taken too much of the medication.
If you are worried about how Dramamine might affect you, or you take other medication that may have an interaction with Dramamine, consult your doctor before you decide to take it. There are also negative, rare side effects, so also make sure to read the label carefully before taking it, especially if someone is just handing you a pill on a boat!