Sedatives for Vertigo

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Sedatives for Vertigo


Generic NameBrand Name

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.

Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects are drowsiness, fatigue, and loss of coordination (ataxia).

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 to 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.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Bhattacharyya N, et al. (2008). Clinical practice guideline: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 139(5, Suppl 4): S47–S81.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD, MD - Neurology
Last Revised February 15, 2011

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