Medical Treatment of Vertigo
Although, often used interchangeably, dizziness and vertigo are two different conditions. Dizziness refers to a feeling of lightheadedness, weakness, or unsteadiness. The term vertigo refers to a false sense that either your body or the environment around you is moving. It may feel as if your body or the world around you is spinning, as if on a merry-go-round. Vertigo may also be accompanied by nausea or vomiting, ringing in the ears or sweating. Some people may even experience visual disturbances, difficulty walking or talking, or a feeling of reduced consciousness. Each episode can last from several minutes to several hours and can be constant or intermittent.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common form of vertigo. This condition is characterized by brief episodes of intense dizziness associated with a change in the position of your head. It may occur when you move your head in a certain direction, lie down from an upright position, turn over in bed or sit up in the morning. Moving your head to look up may also bring about an episode. BPPV usually results from a problem with the nerves and the structures in your inner ear that sense movement and changes in the position of your head.
In the case of BPPV, your medical doctor may treat you with a series of movements known as the canalith repositioning procedure. You must avoid lying flat for 24 to 48 hours and elevate your head on a few pillows when you sleep. If the canalith repositioning procedure isn’t effective, your doctor may then recommend a surgical procedure in which a bone plug is used to block the portion of your inner ear that is causing the dizziness of vertigo. Often times, there is no medical diagnosis as to the cause of vertigo, and when medications are ineffective, many patients are told that they have to live with it.
Another common medical solution to vertigo is the prescription of drugs. There are over 50 different drugs that are commonly prescribed for vertigo and dizziness related conditions. Because most medical doctors are unclear of what is causing your vertigo they will give you medications to experiment and see what might work to help relieve your symptoms. However none of the drugs listed below are addressing whatever is causing the vertigo and at best are providing temporary symptomatic relief while giving you a variety of side effects.
Less commonly, vertigo may be caused by conditions that make changes to certain parts of the brain – for example, a stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, acoustic neuroma (growth in the brain), diplopia (double vision), and drinking too much alcohol.
Depending on what your medical doctor believes is causing your vertigo symptoms you may have been prescribed a number of medicines including: prochlorperazine or antihistamines such as cinnarizine, cyclizine, or promethazine. These medicines are the same ones that are used to help treat nausea and motion sickness. They work by blocking certain chemicals in the brain. Prochlorperazine blocks a chemical called dopamine; this helps with severe sickness and antihistamines block histamine which helps with mild sickness and vomiting as well as vertigo. Betahistine is an antihistamine that may be prescribed for patients with Ménière’s disease, to prevent attacks from occurring. It is thought that this medicine improves the blood flow around the ear.
These medicines come in various brand names and are available as tablets, capsules, liquids, and injections and some are available as sublingual tablets (tablets that dissolve between the upper gum and lip).
There are no good studies that tell us how well these medicines work. However, they have been prescribed to treat vertigo for many years.
Common side-effects of these medications include drowsiness, constipation, headaches, tiredness, insomnia (trouble with sleeping), and indigestion. Prochlorperazine can cause muscle twitching of the shoulders, face and neck.
If you are tired of these drugs and their side effects download our complimentary ebook learn about natural and drug-free approaches.
To learn more about the connection between head and neck injuries and vertigo download our complimentary e-book How to Naturally Relieve Vertigo without Drugs by clicking the image below.
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