Vertigo may be caused by a number of medical conditions that affect the inner ear, including Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's disease and neurological damage resulting in dizziness, particularly in elderly people. The condition should be fully evaluated by a physician to determine the cause and treatment, including the possibility of the use of inner ear vertigo medications.
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Meclizine is the most commonly used medication for vertigo and dizziness. It's also commonly used to prevent and treat motion sickness. It should be used with caution in those with difficulty urinating and glaucoma, as it may have anti-cholinergic side effects such as pupil constriction and urine retention--along with dry mouth, constipation and drowsiness. Meclizine is available over the counter and by prescription in pill form.
In some patients with specific types of inner ear vertigo, diazepam may relieve the condition. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety agent used for a number of conditions including anxiety, certain types of epilepsy and muscle spasms. It may be effective in reducing vertigo associated with inner ear conditions when other medications are not. Diazepam is a known sedative that often causes drowsiness. Take care if driving or performing other potentially dangerous activities, and do not combine it with alcohol or other depressants. Diazepam is a prescription controlled-substance medication that is also known to have a potential for abuse and addiction, so it should be taken exactly as prescribed.
Dimenhydrinate has most commonly been used to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, but it may be used to treat dizziness and vertigo. It also has anticholinergic side effects such as constipation, dry mouth, drowsiness, pupil constriction and urinary retention, and should be used with care in those with related disorders. Dimenhydrinate is available as an over-the-counter medication in pill and liquid form.
Promethazine is a prescription medication most often used to treat nausea and vomiting. It can be used for a variety of medical conditions that cause nausea and vomiting, and may be used for inner ear vertigo if related nausea is severe. Promethazine causes drowsiness and sedation in many people, along with anticholinergic side effects. The drowsiness and sedation may limit its effectiveness as a long-term treatment. Promethazine is available by prescription in oral, rectal and injectable formulation.
Though not as common as other medications, scopolamine may be used as a trans-dermal patch for the treatment of nausea associated with dizziness or vertigo along with motion sickness, spastic muscle disorders and recovery from anesthesia. Scopolamine use is contraindicated in those with glaucoma because it's a potent anticholinergic. Trans-dermal scopolamine patches are available with a prescription.