Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Driminate, and other brand names) is widely used to treat vomiting, but there have been no trials of the efficacy of oral dimenhydrinate in controlling emesis in children with acute gastroenteritis.
Dr. Serge Gouin and colleagues from Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada evaluated the efficacy and safety of oral dimenhydrinate in the treatment of vomiting due to acute gastroenteritis in a randomized, controlled trial of 144 children who presented to their emergency department.
The proportions of children with at least 2 vomiting episodes after treatment were similar for dimenhydrinate (23/74, 31%) and placebo (20/70, 29%).
The 2 groups did not differ significantly in the rate of intravenous insertion, mean number of episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, duration of symptoms, revisit rates, and parental absenteeism.
Just over half the children in both groups experienced adverse events (mainly drowsiness), but the types and frequencies did not differ significantly between the dimenhydrinate and placebo treatments.
“Despite the limited scientific evidence, it is known that emergency department clinicians do often use antiemetic agents to treat acute gastroenteritis in children, mainly to prevent further dehydration,” the researchers note. “There has been no study documenting the efficacy of many of these drugs in the treatment of children with acute gastroenteritis. This situation underscored the need for further research on the subject.”
The investigators stopped short of recommending discontinuation of this practice, and Dr. Gouin did not reply to our email query.