Nausea after surgery or radiation therapy can do far more harm than making a patient feel unwell. The inability to eat can cause patients to lose body weight, feel tired and weak, and evoke immuno-compromise that increases the risk of deadly infections. Since eating improves health and bodily functions, many patients rely on anti-nausea and anti-emetic medications to help them get vital nutrients to keep their bodies strong. Zofran® is a useful drug in these situations, especially for patients who have trouble swallowing.
How Should Zofran Be Used?
Zofran and Zofran ODT® are anti-nausea medications produced by drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. Zofran and a related medication, Zuplenz®,
both contain the active ingredient ondansetron, which is also prescribed in its generic form. Zuplenz is a film that dissolves on the tongue, while Zofran and ondansetron may be taken in pill form or as a liquid. Zofran ODT is a tablet that dissolves in the mouth, allowing patients with severe nausea to take the medication without the need to swallow a liquid.
Patients should be aware of the following dosage instructions when taking Zofran:
- Patients undergoing radiotherapy or total body radiation are typically given an initial oral dose of one 8mg Zofran or 10 mL (2 tsp) of Zofran Oral Solution one-to-two hours before each fraction of radiotherapy is administered. Additional doses of 8mg Zofran may be taken up to three times per day for one or two days after treatment.
- Patients treated with daily fractionated radiotherapy may be given one 8mg Zofran tablet or 10 mL (2 tsp) of Zofran Oral Solution one-to-two hours before each treatment and additional 8mg doses every eight hours.
- Patients taking Zofran for nausea and vomiting after surgery are typically given 16 mg of Zofran before the procedure begins, approximately one hour before anesthesia is administered.
- Zofran may be taken with or without food. However, patients should follow their doctor’s instructions about when and what to eat before chemotherapy or other procedures are performed.
- Patients taking the liquid form of Zofran should be provided with an accurate measuring spoon to ensure the correct dosage. Patients should not use household spoons to administer or measure a dose.
- Patients with severe liver problems are limited to a maximum dose of 8mg Zofran in 24 hours.
- Dosage should be determined by your doctor, and depends on your medical conditions, age, and weight. Patients who should not take Zofran may be prescribed an alternate anti-nausea medication.
- Patients should take Zofran at or near the same time each day, and should only take it as prescribed.
- If you miss a dose, take it as soon you remember. If the missed dose is within three hours of the next dose, you should skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule. Never double the dose of Zofran without talking to your doctor.
Zofran Carries a Risk of Increased Serotonin
Patients taking Zofran or ondansetron should be aware of the risk of a serious condition known as serotonin syndrome. Zofran works by blocking serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can induce nausea and vomiting. Although Zofran interrupts serotonin, starting the medication or increasing its dosage may cause fluctuations in serotonin levels, especially if you are also taking other drugs that interfere with serotonin. Serotonin syndrome, also called serotonin toxicity, can cause diarrhea, shivering, fever, muscle spasms, and seizures, and perhaps even more fatal injury.
Patients are advised to provide their doctors and pharmacists with a full list of the medications they're taking before beginning a course of Zofran. Patients should be tested to determine if they're allergic to ondansetron or other serotonin blockers, such as granisetron, before starting treatment. Patients taking Zofran who experience increased heart rate, dizziness, fever, hallucinations, coordination problems, vomiting, or diarrhea should seek emergency medical help immediately.
Zofran During Pregnancy
Although doctors sometimes prescribe Zofran for morning sickness in pregnant women, the drug was never intended for this use. If you or your child suffered as a result of taking Zofran during pregnancy, the McGartland Law Firm can fight on your behalf. Contact us today to speak to a qualified attorney.