Esmé Finlay, MD, Fellow, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Joseph B. Straton, MD, MSCE, Chief Medical Director, Wissahickon Hospice; Assistant Professor, Family Medicine and Community Health; Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Jonathan R. Gavrin, MD, Director, Symptom Management and Palliative Care; Clinical Associate Professor, Anesthesiology and Critical Care; Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Nausea and emesis are distressing symptoms that can contribute to malnutrition, dehydration, and decreased quality of life in older patients. Dopaminergic, cholinergic, histaminergic, serotonergic, and neurokinin receptor mechanisms play roles in the causation of nausea. Pharmacologic therapy targeted at these and other mechanisms is necessary to effectively treat the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Multidrug regimens that target multiple mechanisms are often needed to control persistent symptoms. However, caution is advised when prescribing these medications in older patients, as many of the effective medications can cause sedation, confusion, or delirium. This article describes the mechanisms of nausea and vomiting and reviews effective treatment regimens.
Key words: nausea, vomiting, emesis, antiemetics, older adults.