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How effective is meclizine for preventing dizziness?

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Quick Answer

Meclizine is considered a highly effective treatment for dizziness and vertigo and is one of the first treatment choices for these symptoms, according to the American Hearing Research Foundation. At least one double-blind study demonstrating significant improvements in dizziness and related symptoms in patients taking meclizine instead of a placebo has also been published, according to the Blue Ridge Hearing and Balance Clinic.

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Full Answer

Meclizine, also known by its trade name Antivert, is an antihistamine agent, as reported by the American Hearing Research Foundation. This makes it similar in action to anti-allergy drugs such as Benadryl, but meclizine has additional effects on the receptors responsible for tolerance to motion that give the drug its efficacy in treating dizziness. Meclizine also crosses the blood-brain barrier more effectively than other antihistamines with similar effects and has relatively few side effects as compared to benzodiazepines, the other major class of drugs frequently used in the treatment of dizziness and vertigo. Meclizine has antiemetic properties, so it is useful for treating nausea due to vertigo as well as combating the sensation of dizziness itself.

Though meclizine is effective for treating vertigo, it is not the most effective treatment, notes Blue Ridge Hearing and Balance Clinic. The drug scopolamine has been shown to have higher overall efficacy for treatment of dizziness symptoms. Meclizine and other pharmaceutical treatments are also not generally appropriate for patients experiencing extended periods of vertigo except as a stopgap measure.

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