Sedatives for Vertigo
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How It Works
Diazepam and clonazepam have a calming effect. They may be able to help with vertigo by reducing the activity of the brain and reducing anxiety.
Why It Is Used
Sedatives are prescribed to control vertigo caused by inner ear problems.
How Well It Works
These medicines can reduce the spinning feeling people have when they have vertigo. 1 But they also slow down the brain’s ability to adjust to the abnormal balance signals triggered by the inner ear.
These medicines are not as effective in treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) as the Epley or Semont manoeuvres.
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.
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.
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- Slurred speech.
- Thoughts of suicide.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Memory loss.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on clonazepam (Rivotril) and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using this medicine. Instead, people who take clonazepam should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take clonazepam and who are worried about this side effect should talk with a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Sedatives can be habit-forming in some people if they are used over a long period of time or if the person has other drug addictions, including alcohol.
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
Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.
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.
- Bhattacharyya N, et al. (2008). Clinical practice guideline: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 139(5, Suppl 4): S47–S81.
Last Revised: February 20, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine