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whats the differance between Meclizine and Dramamine

Discussion in 'Diving Medicine' started by sylvester, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. sylvester

    sylvester Solo Diver

    I am wondering what the differance is between Meclizine and Dramamine. I have used both but not sure which is more effective since I failed to take them the day before the trip and then the morning of, allowing the med to get in my system. Meclizine makes me very drowsy, more so then Dramamine. So I plan to take one (M or D) Friday afternoon, then again Saturday am before boarding the boat.

    So what are the opinions out there about these two meds?

    Which is more effecive?
  2. Laurence Stein DDS

    Laurence Stein DDS Medical Moderator

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Miami, Florida
    Hi Sylvester,

    You might want to think of Meclizine and Dramamine as "cousins". They are both classified as antihisamines. This class of drugs "target" histamine receptors which, when stimulated by histamine released from local tissues in response to exposure to substances that initiate an allergic reaction. You get the runny nose, itching eyes, coughing sneezing etc.

    Antihistamines "block" the chemical receptor sites within different tissues (found on the surface of cells). When blocked, these sites are no longer available to bind to histamine. Thus, the chemical/physical reaction to the histamine is blocked or reduced.

    Almost all drugs have certain desired effects and certain "side effects."
    Some side effects can sometimes severely limit the dose or usefulness of a particular drug. It turns out however, that one of the common side effects of antihistamines (in general) is to cause drowsiness, reduce or prevent nausea and motion sickness. Certain antihistamines may actually have a very strong anti-nausea/anti-motion sickness action and therefore the drug is used for it's side effect. That is why Meclizine and Dramamine (diphenhydrinate) are used for their effects other than as an antihistamine.

    Many of the older antihistamines produce drowsiness. While they may well reduce or stop motion sickness, the medication many not really be appropriate for a diver. Coupled with the sedative action of nitrogen, antihistamines will have an additive effect. You might want to look at:


    Which basically says that the drug dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) can cause serious cognitive problems. This could compromise a diver at depth and therefore should not be considered for an active diver. If you have no plans to dive on the otherhand, these medications are useful

    Newer antihistamines produce less drowsiness in general but may interact with other types of medications.

    Hope this helps. Be careful out there. Consult your physician for a motion sickness medication that is less likely to cause sedation/cognitive effects.


    Laurence Stein, DDS
  3. sylvester

    sylvester Solo Diver

    Thanks for the infomaton but which of the two drugs is newer? My doc gave me the Meclizine when I mentioned boat rides to go diving. If these are not good beacuse of the effects at depth what would be another option?
  4. lynnemari

    lynnemari Nassau Grouper

    I have very bad motion sickness, and I have been using the patch diving for the last 2 years. You need a perscription for it, but I have never had a Doctor not give it. It is called scalopine ( spelling may be off) just tell your doctor the patch for motion sickness. It works great!
    Some people take ginger too. I don't have any expereince with it.
  5. sylvester

    sylvester Solo Diver

    Does it make you sleepy?
  6. BillP

    BillP Senior Member

    Howdy sylvester:

    There's a whole lot of information on the board about seasickness treatments. Do searches for meclizine, Dramamine, scopolamine, seasickness, etc. and you'll find a wealth of knowledge. Doc Vikingo has written many good articles on the various methods to prevent seasickness so you might want to narrow your seach by including his board name in the search parameters.

    Now, about over-the-counter (OTC) meds. Did you know that there is no OTC med in the US simply called Dramamine? There's Dramamine Original Formula, Dramamine Chewable Formula, Children's Dramamine Liquid, and Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula (at least, if not more). It's important to know which one you're talking about. For instance, like Dr Stein said, Dramamine Original Formula is dimenhydrinate, but Dramamine Less Drowsy Formula is meclizine! When you buy OTC meds, you should read the label and pay close attention to the active ingredients so you know exactly what you're taking.

    Which is more effective? Different medicines affect different people differently. The fact that Dramamine's meclizine fromulation is called "Less Drowsy" is irrelevant to you if it actually makes you more drowsy. Which medications make lynnemari sleepy (or not) might also be irrelevant to you. Yes, scopolamine can make one sleepy, but if it doesn't make you sleepy it could be a good choice for you.

    No one can tell you in advance which seasickness preventative will work best for you. Read through all the good posts on seasickness, and try different treatments on land before any trip to see how they affect you. Then see how well they work at sea. That's really all that you can do.



    The above information is for discussion purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for any individual.
  7. cal2632

    cal2632 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Cincinnati
    So, since these are both antihistiamines, and I'll need one or the other to get on a small boat, does that mean I should forego my regular dose of Allegra on those days? I don't have a problem with sleepiness with Dramamine, but sounds like the two together could be a problem.

  8. Laurence Stein DDS

    Laurence Stein DDS Medical Moderator

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Miami, Florida
    Hi Mona,

    Good question. If it were me, I wouldn't mix the two. You can get an antihistamine effect from either...although the degree of its effect can be variable.

    More important, the diminished cognitive function would be a good reason NOT to use Dramamine or Meclizine. You don't want to be impared while diving. See the link I provides.

    Larry Stein
  9. DocVikingo

    DocVikingo Senior Member Staff Member

    The first difference between "Meclizine" and "Dramamine" is that meclizine is a chemical compound (and therefore not capitalized), while Dramamine is a brand name/trademark.

    As you will see, the inquiry would have been somewhat easier to address had one of the earlier responders rephrased it as, "What is the difference between meclizine and dimenhydrinate?"

    However, matters still would have been slightly confusing as Dramamine comes in several formulations, one of which has meclizine as the active ingredient, i.e., Dramamine-II (Less Drowsy). BTW, meclizine is the active ingredient in other motion sickness medications such as Antivert & Bonine.

    Dramamine also comes in formulations where is the active ingredient is dimenhydrinate, e.g., Dramamine Original Formula. BTW, dimenhydrinate is the active ingredient in other motion sickness medications such as TripTone.

    As to which is "newer," Dramamine-II is the most recently introduced US over the counter (OTC) drug specifically marketed for motion sickness, although it's active ingredient, meclizine, has been around for many years. However, "newer" shouldn't be confused with "more effective."

    Sleepiness or drowsiness is a reported side effect of both dimenhydrinate & meclizine, although typically it is somewhat less common in the later.

    Given that I suspect you are ultimately interested in what will give you the best results with the fewest adverse reactions, BillP's post above is deserving of a close reading.

    He refers you to my articles on the subject of preventing & treating sea sickness, one of which may be found as post #3 within the following thread---->


    This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual, and should not be construed as such.

    Best regards,


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