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Meclizine for Treatment of Vertigo

The dizziness a person may experience is usually classified by doctors as either lightheadedness or vertigo. In the former, the person feels mentally hazy or faint, while in the latter, the person feels that the room is whirling around him. The type of dizziness experienced in vertigo is often associated with certain disorders present in the inner ear, the part of the body where the balance centers are situated.

This means that the dizziness experienced in vertigo could be related to hearing problems. For instance, an infection caused by a certain virus can cause vertigo and damage hearing if not treated immediately. In another example, vertigo can be a side effect of some drugs or medications. In some severe cases of vertigo, the dizziness may occur as a symptom of Meniere’s disease, a condition in which the inner ear is blocked by excessive fluids.

There are several drugs doctors prescribe to treat or prevent vertigo, and one of these is meclizine (examples are the brand names Antivert and Bonine of Pfizer). As an antiemetic/antivertigo agent, meclizine is used to prevent or treat vomiting, nausea, and dizziness associated with disorders of the inner ear. Compared to most other drugs of the same type, meclizine takes a little longer to start working; but its effect lasts about 1 or 2 days longer. Generally though, meclizine is more effective in preventing vertigo than in treating the symptoms once they occur.

A doctor should first be consulted before giving meclizine to a child suffering from nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. It is important to understand that meclizine may conceal symptoms important in arriving at the diagnosis of an underlying disease; this drug is prescribed for the relief of vertigo, not for the cure of any underlying conditions. Also, women who are pregnant should not take meclizine (women who feel they may become pregnant while they are taking meclizine should immediately stop its use). This is because the use of meclizine by pregnant women has been linked to birth defects.

Some of the most common side effects of meclizine include dry mouth, drowsiness, and blurred vision. Its two other possible side effects, although infrequent, are constipation and difficulty in urination. Note that this drug may cause tiredness, loss of concentration, or sleepiness. As such, it must not be used along with other drugs or substances that have similar effects, such as tranquilizers, antihistamines, narcotics, sleeping pills, barbiturates, or alcoholic beverages.

For the prevention of dizziness associated with motion sickness, the usual dose of meclizine is 25 to 50 milligrams taken about an hour before travel. For the control of vertigo, take 25 to 100 milligrams per day in divided doses. In any case, a person experiencing vertigo should consult a doctor at once so that proper medical steps can be taken to address the problem.


1. “Meclizine Index”, written by Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD; edited by Jay W. Marks, MD, on MedicineNet.com – http://www.medicinenet.com/meclizine/article.htm

2. “Meclizine”, on Drugs.com – http://www.drugs.com/meclizine.html

3. Health Encyclopedia – Diseases and Conditions, “Vertigo”, on The HealthScout Network – http://www.healthscout.com/ency/68/462/main.html