Zofran, or ondansetron, is an anti-nausea medication often prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical recovery often cause nausea and vomiting, which reduces a patient’s quality of life. These conditions make it hard to stay hydrated and nourished; they can also put unneeded stress on incisions, ports, and other sensitive regions. Zofran reduces nausea and vomiting to reduce these symptoms.

Zofran may work by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain and the vagus nerve, which connects the digestive system, heart, and brain. Blocking these receptors prevents retching and vomiting. Zofran is commonly prescribed for cancer patients but can also be given to people suffering nausea for other reasons.

What Forms Does Zofran Come In?

Zofran is available in several forms including tablets, rapid-dissolve tablets, oral solution, injection, and IV solution.

Precautions and Warnings about Zofran

Tell your doctor if you’re allergic to ondansetron, other serotonin inhibitors, or any of the medication’s inactive ingredients. Discuss all your allergies with your medical team since some forms of Zofran may contain inactive ingredients that others don’t.

Talk about your medical history with your doctor to make sure Zofran is safe for you. Zofran may not be a good choice for patients with a history of irregular heartbeat, liver problems, and stomach or digestive concerns.

Rarely, QT prolongation can be fatal. People who have heart problems or a family history of heart problems are more likely to experience QT prolongation. Taking other medicines that affect the heart rhythm also makes QT prolongation more likely. Low potassium and magnesium levels also increase the chance of QT prolongation.

Pregnant patients are sometimes prescribed Zofran for hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme version of “morning sickness” that can cause dehydration, malnourishment, parental weight loss, and low birth weight. However, Zofran is associated with an increase in some birth defects like cleft palate. Talk to your medical team about whether Zofran or hyperemesis gravidarum has lower risk for your symptoms.

Zofran is associated with QT prolongation, a condition that changes the rhythm of your heart. QT prolongation can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Falling
  • Severe dizziness

Side Effects of Zofran

Lightheadedness and dizziness when standing up are common on Zofran. You can reduce these side effects by standing slowly and holding onto something if necessary.

Mild Side Effects

Zofran can cause mild side effects including

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and tiredness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Constipation

Serious Side Effects

You should tell your doctor immediately if you notice more serious side effects, such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision, even if temporary
  • Muscle stiffness, twitching, or spasms
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness that doesn’t go away
  • Fainting
  • Allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing)

Serotonin Syndrome

Zofran blocks parts of your body from using serotonin, which means there’s more serotonin available to other parts of your brain and nervous system. This imbalance can lead to a rare but serious condition called serotonin syndrome or serotonin toxicity. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained fever
  • Extreme nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe dizziness
  • Restlessness or agitation

Drug Interactions with Zofran

It’s important to tell your doctor about all the other medications you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, supplements, herbs, and recreational drugs.

Zofran can cause negative interactions if you take it with other medicines that cause QT prolongation or raise serotonin levels. These drugs include:

  • Procainamide
  • Quinidine
  • Dofetilide
  • Pimozide
  • Amiodarone
  • Sotalol
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • John’s wort
  • Some antidepressants including SSRIs and SNRIs
  • MDMA or ecstasy

Strengths and Dosages of Zofran

Zofran comes in the following strengths and dosages.

Form of ZofranDosages Available
Tablet4mg, 8mg, and 24mg
Dissolving tablet4mg, 8 mg
Oral solution4mg/5ml
Injectable solution2mg/ml

Cost of Zofran in America

Here are some average costs for different forms of Zofran without insurance:

  • $120 for three 8mg tablets
  • $240 for 20ml vial of 2mg/ml injectable solution
  • $250 for 50ml bottle of 4mg/5ml oral solution

Alternatives to Zofran

Besides Zofran, other serotonin blockers include:

  • Aloxi
  • Anzemet
  • Granisol
  • Kytril
  • Lotronex
  • Palonosetron
  • Sancuso
  • Zuplenz

Zofran FAQs

What is Zofran used for?

Zofran is a serotonin inhibitor that reduces nausea, retching, and vomiting.

How often can you take Zofran?

Each form of Zofran has its own dosing instructions. Follow your doctor’s instructions for the best results. Most patients are prescribed Zofran to take once or twice a day.

How long after taking Zofran can you drink water?

If you’re using rapid-dissolve tablets, allow the medicine to fully dissolve in your mouth before eating or drinking. You can drink water once the medicine has completely dissolved. You can drink water to swallow standard Zofran tablets.

How long does Zofran last?

Zofran lasts for around 8-12 hours.

How long does Zofran take to work?

Most people start feeling Zofran’s effects in 30 minutes. It can take up to 2 hours to feel the most relief. Cancer patients typically take Zofran before a chemo or radiation treatment to prevent nausea.

How does Zofran work?

Zofran blocks some parts of your body from using serotonin. This prevents the signals that would normally cause nausea or vomiting from reaching your brain.

How long does Zofran stay in your system?

Zofran stays in your system for around 24 hours.

What are the most common side effects of Zofran?

Zofran’s most common side effects are headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, tiredness, and constipation.

How much Zofran can you take?

The usual Zofran dose is 8mg for adults and 4mg for children. You should take Zofran as prescribed. Talk to your doctor if your dose doesn’t relieve your nausea or vomiting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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