Dramamine and Meclizine for Vertigo and Motion sickness

Dramamine and Meclizine are two names we hear the most when we talk about motion sickness, or vertigo, relief. You will learn how dramamine may help with vertigo and other vestibular disorders. We hope that you will find a way to deal with your dizziness problem without any of these two as medication can because more damage than it does good. It's important to be aware of your options when things get out of hand and you need an external support.

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Pavel Kotlykov
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You should know that Meclizine is not a medication but an active chemical element in the medication. It can replace Dramamine's main active element, Dimenhydrinate, for less sedative effects. Overall, the effect is pretty similar both both elements.

Dramamine and Meclizine

To avoid confusion in the future: Dramamine is the brand name. Meclizine is a chemical element.

Initially, dramamine's main active element was/is Dinenhydrinate (chemical element); hence, the name.

However, there's a similar yet slightly different antihistmaine chemical element called Meclizine which is sold under different brand names (Bonine, Antivert, etc).

The brand Dramamine, without changing the name (that implies the presence of Dinengydrinate) issued so-called "Less Drousy" version of Dramamine that contains Meclizine as its active element.

There's been some confusion among people regarding these two names.

The main purpose of this post is to make you sufficiently educated so you can make weighted decisions regarding your health and well-being. Clarifying the difference (and meclizine) between dramamine and meclizine is the first step. Second step is to inform you about the most important details in case you'll choose to use those medications. Finally, and most importantly, I hope you'll be able to avoid using any medication and find a way to heal (relief) your problems in a natural way. As an option, you may look at our Natural Remedies for Vertigo and Dizziness Guide.

About Dramamine

Dramamine is commonly marketed under the brand names Dramamine, Driminate, Gravol, Vomex, Gravamin, and Vertirosan.

Dramamine or Dimenhydrinate is an antihistamine commonly prescribed in order to prevent and treat the nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by motion sickness and vertigo.

Antihistamines work by blocking the parts of the brain that cause people to feel nauseous whenever they suffer from vertigo or motion sickness.

That's how Dramamine's Most Recommended Brand looks like

When it is used as a treatment for vertigo, the drug may be used to successfully relieve the symptoms of Labyrinthitis, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, Vestibular Neuritis, and Meniere’s Disease.

As well as the above conditions, Dramamine can also be used to treat nausea and sickness that is related purely to cases of inflammation in the nerve of the inner ear.

It’s important to note, Dramamine taken for cases of vertigo is intended to be a temporary cure to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of the condition, and should never be relied upon for long-term use.

Dramamine is a non-prescription medication available freely over the counter at most dispensing pharmacies and can be taken orally via capsules or in liquid form. The drug should typically be taken every 4-6 hours as needed at the dose instructed on the packet, usually at a dose of between 50-100mg.

Because vertigo is a condition that typically stems from the inner ear and has an effect on the Central Nervous System, Dramamine can be extremely effective at relieving the symptoms of this condition temporarily, since it crosses the blood-brain barrier with ease.

The common symptoms that Dramamine treats:

  • Sensation of Spinning or Whirling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Motion Sickness
  • Ringing in the ears

Especially in the case of horrible nausea and vomiting associated with Vestibular Neuronitis, Dramamine can be essential in relieving unpleasant symptoms and returning something of a normal life to the sufferer.

Who can take Dramamine?

Inform your doctor of all the medication you are taking before taking Dramamine. Also tell him of any pre-existing medical conditions or if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding.

Make sure to tell your doctor if you are suffering from one of the following illnesses:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Asthma
  • Glaucoma
  • Urinary disorders
  • Enlarged prostate

Some doctors do not prescribe Dramamine (and Meclizine) to people aged 65 or over because it may produce an increased effect of dementia and amnesia and lead to greater confusion.

If you do suffer from any of the above-mentioned conditions, you may not be suitable to take the drug, or your doctor may recommend that you take a lower dose.

Dramamine is currently classified by the FDA as category B, unlikely to harm an unborn baby, but if you are pregnant you would be best advised to speak with your doctor first before commencing a course of the medication, just to be on the safe side.

If you are a nursing mother you should also steer clear of the drug unless your doctor expressly indicates otherwise, since it passes into breast milk and can cause harm to a nursing infant.

Children younger than two years should not take the drug, unless under the direct supervision of a doctor or other qualified medical practitioner.

Let's talk about Meclizine

The overall effect of Dramamine can be fairly sedating so it is best to avoid activities such as driving heavy goods vehicles while under the influence of the medication.

There is however a version of the drug available that has a far less sedating effect, currently marketed as Less Drowsy Dramamine, which omits the drugs main active ingredient Diphenhydramine and replaces it with Meclizine.

Meclizine is not a medication but chemical element which is listed as an antihistamine and may help with a broad range of symptoms of motion sickness including vomiting and nausea. Meclizine is also effective in relieving vertigo experienced as a result of inner ear infection.

Chemically, Meclizine HCl, USP is 1-(p-chloro-α-phenylbenzyl)-4-(m-methylbenzyl) piperazine dihydrochloride monohydrate.

Meclizine is pharmacologically classified as an antihistamine, commonly associated with use in the treatment of allergies. Combating the effects of histamine in the body, antihistamines are used widely for a wide variety of medical issues.

During initial trials carried out during the 1950s, developers discovered its usefulness in the treatment of vertigo. Not all antihistamines have the same effect.

Meclizine is also available under several other brand names, please check with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Meclizine has a depressant effect on the central nervous system and acts as a local anesthetic. Experts are not fully clear on its anti vertigo effects but believe that Meclizine reduces vestibular stimulation, i.e. the part in the inner ear responsible for the vestibular disorder is less aggravated, hence symptoms may reduce.

Medical Research into the benefits of using Meclizine for Vestibular Disorders

dramamine meclizine research

Even though medical professionals often prescribe Meclizine to people suffering from vertigo, very little research has been conducted in this area. They believe that Meclizine’s sedative effect on the central nervous system and local anesthetic effect may help to reduce the symptoms. Consequently, they administer Meclizine to those suffering from vestibular disorders.

One study suggested that 90% of people in primary care suffering from dizziness were given Meclizine before being diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

Another study found that in the general population, only 31% of people suffering from vertigo found it to be effective.

The Physician’s Desk found that Meclizine is effective when managing vestibular disorders and the symptoms thereof. However, they believe it to be unsuitable to deal with unsteadiness, disequilibrium, loss of balance, or light-headedness.

Generally, experts believe that Meclizine is suitable for use in the acute initial phase of dizziness because it lessens the symptoms. However, medics have also discovered that prolonged use can be counter-productive. Suppressing symptoms may prevent the brain from becoming aware of the existing asymmetry. They recommend a treatment aimed at promoting central compensation instead.

Experts also found that many people experiencing dizziness weren’t suffering from a vestibular disorder and concluded that prescribing Meclizine in such incidents would be counter-productive.

Nevertheless, in a double-blind study into the benefits of Meclizine in 1972, most people experienced relief from vertigo symptoms. In contrast, no study has indicated that Meclizine eased light-headedness or imbalance.

Study into the negative effect of Meclizine

Kennedy et al study found no major negative psychomotor effects when the drug was administered to a group of healthy young adults alongside a placebo. Nonetheless, participants had some difficulty balancing on a beam after taking Meclizine.

Meclizine’s impact on the central nervous system was examined by Manning et al. They found that adequately administered Meclizine caused drowsiness, while also producing reduced mental performance when compared with the effects of a placebo.

Manning et al also compared the effects of Meclizine to that of alcohol and found them to be similar. Blood alcohol levels were between 0.04% and 0.06%.

Vestibular therapy, Meclizine, and posture

In recent times, experts have compared the benefits of medication and vestibular therapy to examine their impact on patient’s posture control.

One group was administered Valium or Meclizine, while the other group was engaged in physical therapy. Both groups experienced a lessening of symptoms, however, only the group involved in physical therapy

demonstrated improved posture.

Horak et al concluded that sedative medication (like Dramamine or Meclizine) may counteract physical vestibular therapy. Shepard et al found that those taking vestibular suppressant, antidepressant, sedatives, etc. also achieved results from physical therapy, however, only after a much longer period.

Side Effects

Some side effects of Dramamine may not be reported. It's not enough to notice that you're on high on Dramamine. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice.

The most common side effects are a dry mouth, drowsiness, and fatigue. Blurred vision, headaches or vomiting are also common side effects. Tell your medical practitioner about your side effects,she/he may be able to recommend ways of minimizing them.

  • Dry Mouth - this is a common side effect of many medicines and is an irritating rather than life affecting symptom. You can alleviate the symptom by sucking sweets or ice.
  • Drowsiness - this can occur while taking meclizine and as a result, it is not recommended the person taking the drug drinks alcohol. Drinking alcohol should not react negatively with the drug but may cause the drowsiness to become even more extreme. The person taking the medication should also avoid operating any heavy machinery during the course.
  • Dementia symptoms exacerbated - Meclizine can aggravate dementia symptoms by causing confusion. Your GP will consider this before prescribing the drug.
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Skin hives or rashes
  • Swelling of tongue, face, throat or lips
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Itching
  • Tightness in the chest

Stop taking dimenhydrinate (the active ingredient contained in Dramamine) and seek emergency medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives).

For healthcare professionals (or curious consumers)

Applies to dimenhydrinate: compounding powder, injectable solution, oral liquid, oral tablet, oral tablet chewable

  • NERVOUS SYSTEM side effects have commonly included drowsiness and sedation. Depression, impaired motor skills, CNS stimulation, nervousness, dizziness, excitation, and restlessness have been reported. CNS stimulation may paradoxically occur in some patients. Headache and tinnitus have been reported rarely. Convulsions and coma have also been reported.
  • GENITOURINARY side effects have included urinary retention and dysuria as a result of the anticholinergic effects of dimenhydrinate (the active ingredient contained in Dramamine).
  • HYPERSENSITIVITY side effects have been reported in patients receiving dimenhydrinate (the active ingredient contained in Dramamine) products containing tartrazine dye. These have included bronchial asthma and have occurred more likely in patients sensitive to aspirin.
  • GASTROINTESTINAL side effects reported as mild have included dry mouth, dry nose, dry throat, constipation, and diarrhea. Anorexia and epigastric distress have been reported.
  • RESPIRATORY side effects have included dryness of the respiratory passages, thickening of bronchial secretions, and respiratory depression.
  • CARDIOVASCULAR side effects have included hypotension, palpitations, and tachycardia.
  • OCULAR side effects have included blurred vision, diplopia, and dry eyes due to anticholinergic effects.

Precautions and Dosage

Do not consume more than 400mg of Dramamine in one day. 
  • If you are driving, operating machinery, or performing hazardous activities that require your full concentration, you should use caution when taking Dramamine, as one of the common side effects of the medication can be increased drowsiness.
  • If you do start to experience drowsiness, feelings of dizziness, or blurred vision, it is imperative you stop the above activities, so as not to be a potential health hazard to yourself and others in your vicinity.
  • Also, when taking the drug, take care to use alcohol sparingly if at all, as it can dramatically increase the symptoms of drowsiness and dizziness that can be side effects of taking Dramamine.
  • Consume each dose of Dramamine with a full glass of water, and to ensure you get the correct measure, use the liquid form of the drug with a special dose-measuring spoon or beaker, which your local pharmacist should be able to supply you with.
  • The medication should be stored at room temperature and kept well away from damp and excessive heat or humidity.

Symptoms of Dramamine overdose include:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat

Generally, professionals recommend the following dosages:

  • Use for Motion Sickness: Take Dramamine, or Meclizine, one hour before setting off. If you are traveling for several days, you may take 1 dose for every 24-hour period. 1 standard adult dose is 25 to 50 mg.
  • Use for Vertigo: Your doctor may recommend taking it several times a day. Make sure to follow her/his instructions. 1 standard adult dose is between 25 and 100 mg.

If you miss a dose and remember it shortly after you were due to take it, proceed to take it. If it is nearly time for the next dose, don’t make up for the missed dose. If you exceed the prescribed dosage, contact your doctor immediately.

Interactions (of Meclizine) with Other Drugs, Food, and Diseases

Drug Interactions

Meclizine is known to interact with over 600 other drugs. Consequently, it is absolutely crucial to tell your doctor what medication you are taking. Some of the interactions are serious, while others less severe.

The 611 interactions can be divided into the following three groups:

  • 18 Serious drug interactions
  • 588 Moderate drug interactions
  • 5 Minor drug interactions

Your doctor will be able to tell you whether you can take Meclizine in conjunction with your other medication.

Food/Alcohol Interactions

Alcohol is likely to heighten the side effects. Meclizine may also interact with food supplements, vitamins, and herbal remedies. Consequently, you should inform your doctor about your alcohol consumption and your intake of food supplements etc.

Disease Interactions

If you are suffering from one of the conditions listed below, you may not be able to take Meclizine. This applies particularly to the following for diseases:

  • Glaucoma, Urinary Retention, Gastrointestinal Obstruction: Meclizine is an antihistamine and may not be suitable for use for everybody. If you are suffering from any of the listed diseases, your doctor may not prescribe Meclizine.
  • Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: The anticholinergic effects of antihistamines may negatively impact on people suffering from asthma or COPD. Please consult your doctor if you are a sufferer.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Antihistamines may also impact on those suffering from heart disease. Inform you doctor and ask for her/his advice.
  • Renal or Liver Disease: As an antihistamine, Meclizine may not be suitable for you if you are suffering from renal or liver disease. It’s best to talk to your medical professional and find out more.

Most importantly, tell your doctor your complete medical history and inform her/him about all the medication and supplements you are taking. Also, outline your lifestyle habits to give him a complete insight into your physical health. She/he will then be able to determine whether Meclizine is suitable for you.


In conclusion, medical experts now believe that Meclizine and Dramamine is only suitable for use during the initial acute phase and should not be administered to patients suffering from vertigo indefinitely. Acute symptoms experienced during the initial 3-5 days could indeed be eased, however, prolonged use may slow down the overall recovery.

Both dramamine and meclizine are one of the most commonly used drugs in the treatment of motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. If you are suffering from these conditions, discuss it with your physician who will be able to determine whether taking Meclizine/Dramamamine could benefit you. If you are suffering from vertigo, you may get significant relief from symptoms but again, we advise discussing all the treatment options with your doctor.

Make sure to inform her/him of all your symptoms and medical history. Judging from the reviews, Meclizine benefits most people, though the side effects can be quite severe. Never choose a medication without consulting a doctor first.


In this video, a doctor describes what is Meclizine, how Meclizine not only works for motion sickness and vertigo symptoms but could also potentially be used for medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes due to specific properties held by the antihistamine.



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