Hyoscine hydrobromide (Kwells and Joy-Rides)
1. About hyoscine hydrobromide
Hyoscine hydrobromide is taken to prevent travel sickness (motion sickness).
It can also be used to reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. This can help with symptoms if you're having palliative care or end of life care.
Hyoscine hydrobromide comes as patches and tablets that you suck, chew or swallow. It can also given by injection, but this is usually only done in hospital.
You can buy the travel sickness tablets and patches at pharmacies.
Hyoscine hydrobromide patches and tablets for reducing excess saliva are available on prescription only.
Hyoscine hydrobromide is not the same as hyoscine butylbromide, better known as Buscopan.
2. Key facts
- Hyoscine hydrobromide is mainly used to prevent travel sickness.
- The most common side effects are a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision.
- The travel sickness tablets come in different strengths: 300 micrograms for adults, 150 micrograms for children.
- Do not give travel sickness tablets to children under the age of 4 years. Do not give the patches to children under the age of 10 years.
- Popular brand names for the travel sickness tablets are Kwells, Kwells Kids and Joy-Rides. The patches are called Scopaderm.
3. Who can and cannot take hyoscine hydrobromide
Hyoscine hydrobromide tablets for travel sickness can be taken by adults and children from the age of 4 years.
For excess saliva, the tablets are prescribed for adults and children aged 12 years and older.
Hyoscine hydrobromide patches (for both travel sickness and excess saliva) can generally be used by adults and children from the age of 10 years.
Hyoscine hydrobromide is not suitable for some people. Tell a doctor or pharmacist if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to hyoscine hydrobromide or any other medicines in the past
- have an eye problem called primary angle closure glaucoma
- have difficulty peeing or a bowel blockage
- have myasthenia gravis, an illness that causes muscle weakness
- have heart problems, including a very fast heart rate
- have thyroid, kidney or liver problems
- have food poisoning or other digestive problems, such as acid reflux, severe constipation or ulcerative colitis
- have a high temperature
- are trying for a baby or you're pregnant, as hyoscine hydrobromide is not recommended in pregnancy
4. How and when to take it
Always read the information that comes with your medicine.
The instructions may be vary, depending on why you're taking hyoscine hydrobromide and whether you're taking tablets or using patches.
You can suck or chew the tablets, or swallow them whole with a drink of water. You can take the tablets with or without food.
The patches work like a plaster and you stick them on your skin.
How to take tablets for travel sickness
Pharmacies sell 2 different strengths of hyoscine hydrobromide tablets:
150 micrograms (including Kwells Kids and Joy-Rides) – for children aged 4 years and older
300 micrograms (including Kwells) – for adults and children aged 10 years and older
Take a dose at least 30 minutes before the start of your journey, or as soon as you start to feel sick when travelling.
For long journeys, you can repeat the dose every 6 hours.
Do not take more than 3 doses in 24 hours.
How to use patches for travel sickness
Patches are suitable for adults and children aged 10 years or older.
- Stick a patch to the skin behind the ear 5 to 6 hours before the start of your journey (or the evening before you travel).
- Remove the patch at the end of your journey.
For long journeys, you can keep the patch on for up to 72 hours (3 days).
If you're still travelling after 72 hours, remove the first patch and stick a new patch behind the other ear. You can keep this on for another 72 hours if needed.
How to take tablets for excess saliva
These tablets are available on prescription only. They can be taken by adults and children aged 12 years or older.
The usual dose is 1 tablet (300 micrograms), 3 times a day.
How to use patches for excess saliva
Adults and children aged 10 years or older:
- Stick a patch to the skin behind the ear.
- Leave the patch on for 72 hours (3 days).
- After 72 hours, remove the patch.
- Stick a new patch behind the other ear.
- After 72 hours, remove the patch.
- Repeat the process.
Occasionally a doctor may prescribe patches for a child under the age of 9 years.
In this case, they'll use your child's weight to work out what size patch to use. They may only need to use half a patch.
What if I take too much?
Taking 1 extra dose of hyoscine hydrobromide by accident is unlikely to harm you.
But you may get more side effects, such as a dry mouth or blurred vision.
The amount of hyoscine hydrobromide that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person, and too much hyoscine can be dangerous.
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the hyoscine hydrobromide packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, hyoscine hydrobromide can cause side effects. But most people have no side effects or only minor ones.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to a pharmacist or doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- feeling sleepy or dizzy
- a dry mouth
- blurred vision or itchy eyelids
- problems peeing (taking longer to empty your bladder, or feeling that your bladder's not quite empty even after peeing)
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but some people may have a serious side effect when taking hyoscine hydrobromide.
Stop taking hyoscine hydrobromide (or remove your patch) if this happens to you.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to hyoscine hydrobromide.
These are not all the side effects of hyoscine hydrobromide.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- feeling sleepy or dizzy – do not drive or use tools or machinery if you're feeling this way. Try to avoid drinking alcohol as this will make you feel more tired. Talk to your doctor if this bothers you as you may need to switch to a different medicine.
- dry mouth – try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets.
- constipation – eat more high-fibre foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Try to exercise more regularly (for example, by going for a daily walk or run). If this does not help, talk to a pharmacist or doctor.
- fast heart rate – if this keeps happening after taking hyoscine hydrobromide, try taking your medicine at a time when you can sit or lie down while your symptoms are worst. It may also help to cut down on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and big meals, as these can make the problem worse. If you're still having symptoms after a week, speak to a doctor. You may need to change to a different type of medicine.
- problems peeing – try to relax when you pee. Do not try to force the flow of urine. If it does not happen, try again later. Talk to a doctor urgently if you cannot pee at all.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Hyoscine hydrobromide is not usually recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Tiny amounts of hyoscine hydrobromide may get into breast milk, but it's not known if this harms the baby.
There's a small risk that hyoscine hydrobromide may reduce the amount of milk you produce.
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and hyoscine hydrobromide can interfere with each other or increase your risk of side effects.
Do not take hyoscine hydrobromide if you're taking medicines used to increase the movement of your gut.
This includes domperidone and metoclopramide.
They can cancel each other out, which means your medicines do not work.
Some medicines increase your risk of side effects if you take them at the same time as hyoscine hydrobromide.
Only take them together if your doctor tells you to.
- amantadine, a medicine for Parkinson's disease
- quinidine and disopyramide, heart medicines
- allergy medicines, such as antihistamines
- some medicines for depression, such as amitriptyline
- some inhaled asthma medicines, including salbutamol, ipratropium, tiotropium
- medicines for mental health problems, such as chlorpromazine or clozapine (unless your doctor prescribes hyoscine hydrobromide for excess saliva caused by clozapine)
Mixing hyoscine hydrobromide with herbal remedies and supplements
There might be a problem taking some herbal remedies and supplements alongside hyoscine hydrobromide, especially ones that cause side effects such as sleepiness, a dry mouth or making it difficult to pee.
Ask a pharmacist for advice.
Tell a doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does hyoscine hydrobromide work?
How long does it take to work?
How long will I take it for?
Is it safe to take for a long time?
What will happen if I stop taking it?
Can I drive or ride a bike with it?
Will it affect my fertility?
Will it affect my contraception?
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Page last reviewed: 28/08/2019
Next review due: 28/08/2022