Drug Information

Antihistamines for Vertigo

Antihistamines for Vertigo


Generic Name Brand Name
dimenhydrinate Gravol
diphenhydramine Benadryl

How It Works

Antihistamines  block parts of your brain that make you feel sick to your stomach when you have vertigo or motion sickness.

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 ).

Antihistamines may also be used to prevent nausea and other symptoms of motion sickness .

How Well It Works

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

These medicines may help with mild forms of motion sickness. 2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don’t feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

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Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Seizures.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Fever.
  • Belly pain.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty urinating.

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

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What To Think About

If you use antihistamines, carefully follow the directions on the label. Check with your child’s doctor before you give them to your child. Antihistamines are not generally recommended for children younger than 6 years.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don’t take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

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Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.



  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.
  2. Advice for travelers (2012). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 10(118): 45–56.

Last Revised: February 20, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine