What Is Prochlorperazine Used For?
Prochlorperazine belongs to a group of medications called phenothiazines. When used to treat schizophrenia, it is known as a typical (or first-generation) antipsychotic medication. It is not entirely known exactly how prochlorperazine works. However, it is known that the drug blocks or lessens the effects of dopamine, a chemical in the brain. Dopamine may be elevated in people with schizophrenia or anxiety. Prochlorperazine is not a cure for schizophrenia or anxiety; it only helps to control symptoms of these conditions (see Symptoms of Schizophrenia or Anxiety Symptoms).
Since dopamine can activate the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting, prochlorperazine can treat severe nausea and vomiting by lessening the effects of dopamine in the brain.
Prochlorperazine should not be used in children younger than two years of age or weighing less than 20 pounds, and should never be used during surgery in children. Prochlorperazine is approved for treating schizophrenia and severe nausea and vomiting in children. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using prochlorperazine in children.
On occasion, prochlorperazine may be used for treating something other than the conditions discussed above. This is called an "off-label" use. Currently, these off-label prochlorperazine uses can include the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with migraines. The drug is particularly effective at preventing or treating nausea and vomiting due to migraines that require treatment with dihydroergotamine (DHE 45®, Migranal®). Dihydroergotamine, which is used to treat migraines that are very difficult to control, often causes severe nausea and vomiting.