Antihistamines for vertigo


Generic Name Brand Name
dimenhydrinate Dramamine
diphenhydramine Benadryl
hydroxyzine Vistaril
meclizine Antivert

How It Works

The exact way that an antihistamine may help with vertigo is not known. Some of these antihistamines may also reduce nausea and vomiting.

Dimenhydrinate and promethazine are available as an injection, suppository, or tablet. Diphenhydramine is available as an injection or a tablet.

Why It Is Used

Antihistamines may be prescribed to control vertigo that is caused by inner ear problems, including Ménière's disease, inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis), benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and inflammation of the nerve to the inner ear (vestibular neuritis). Dimenhydrinate may be used to prevent and control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

How Well It Works

These medicines do give some people relief from vertigo and nausea. But there is no scientific evidence to show that these medicines help with symptoms of vertigo.1

Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effect is drowsiness. Do not use a medicine that makes you drowsy if you will be driving or operating dangerous equipment.

Antihistamines may also cause blurred vision or a dry mouth.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Most antihistamines should be avoided during early pregnancy, if possible.

Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Fife TD, et al. (2008). Practice parameter: Therapies for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 70(22): 2067–2074.

Last Updated: December 29, 2008

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