Duration Health — Question Bank: Question #1

Can you take ondansetron (generic for Zofran®) to treat nausea and vomiting?

Which of the following patients has an increased risk of side effects from ondansetron (generic for Zofran®)?
(A) A person experiencing nausea and vomiting
(B) A person currently taking a daily SSRI medication for depression
(C) A person with known heart rhythm problems
(D) A&C

Ondansetron (generic for Zofran®) is a common anti-nausea medication that helps people who are experiencing nausea or vomiting.

Ondansetron can be dangerous if taken in combination with certain psychiatric medications, such as SSRIs, leading to a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome, where levels of serotonin become too high and result in nervous system dysfunction.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, often referenced in popular culture as affecting levels of happiness and feelings of well-being, although its true effects are complex.

Commonly recognized brand names of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Lexapro.

Additionally, due to its potential effects on heart rhythm, ondansetron is generally avoided in patients with a known history of heart rhythm disturbance, most notably QT prolongation.

What is QT prolongation? Parts of the heart's electrical signal are referred to by the letters Q,R,S and T. In QT prolongation the space between the Q and the T is too wide, and that abnormality predisposes a patient to cardiac arrest. It should be noted that many types of abnormal heart rhythms exist, some of which are not affected by ondansetron.

Why are the other answers incorrect?

A) A person currently experiencing nausea and vomiting
Ondansetron’s main use is specifically for this reason – for treating nausea and vomiting

B) A person currently taking a daily SSRI medication for depression
Though ondansetron should be avoided in patient’s on SSRIs, they also should be avoided in patients with certain heart rhythm problems.

C) A person with known heart rhythm problems
Though ondansetron should be avoided in patients with known heart rhythm problems, it also should be avoided in patients currently on SSRIs.

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Can you take ondansetron (generic for Zofran®) to treat nausea and vomiting? Only your Duration Health provider can decide, based on your medical history and other factors, whether it is medically appropriate for you to receive prescriptions. We do not sell prefabricated bags of pharmaceuticals. Each Duration Health Med Kit that contains prescription medications is custom assembled, tailored to each individual patient's needs.

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