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Several studies have looked at how well the medication prevents nausea and vomiting for people undergoing radiation treatments. In studies of people having total body irradiation and daily fractionated radiation, people who took ondansetron were less likely to have vomiting than people who did not take ondansetron. In a study of people having single high-dose fraction radiation, ondansetron worked better than another medication, metoclopramide (Reglan®), at preventing vomiting.
Ondansetron for the prevention of vomiting and/or nausea after surgery (postoperative nausea and vomiting) has been examined in two studies. In these studies, people who took ondansetron one hour before anesthesia were less likely to have nausea and vomiting compared to people who did not take it. These studies involved women only, mainly because women are more likely to have nausea and vomiting after surgery.
Vomiting is usually much easier to prevent than nausea. Many of the studies of ondansetron either did not look at nausea or did not show that it was effective for nausea.
Some general considerations for when and how to take the medication include:
- Ondansetron comes in several forms: tablets, orally disintegrating tablets (that dissolve in the mouth), and solution (a strawberry-flavored liquid). All of these forms are taken orally. Ondansetron also comes in an intravenous (IV) form that is given to you by your healthcare provider.
- For chemotherapy, it is taken 30 minutes before the start of chemotherapy. Your healthcare provider may instruct you to take further doses of ondansetron after the first dose.
- For radiation, ondansetron is taken one to two hours before radiation. The dose of ondansetron after radiation depends on the type of radiation.
- For surgery, the drug is taken one hour before surgery begins.
- It can be taken with or without food.
- Ondansetron orally disintegrating tablets (ODTs) will quickly dissolve in your mouth, with no need for water. You should keep each tablet in its original blister pack until you need it. Do not try to push the tablet through the foil (the tablet is delicate and would be crushed). Instead, gently peel the foil away and remove the tablet.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. It will not work if you stop taking it.