Medical Treatment of Dizziness
Treatment varies with the individual patient according to the suspected cause and the magnitude and frequency of the symptoms. During an acute spell, suppressant medications such as Antivert or Valium can provide symptomatic relief. These drugs, however, do nothing to cure the problem. But, like treating seasickness, getting symptomatic relief and waiting for the spell to pass may be all that is needed. All of these suppressants can cause drowsiness. Thus, you must be extremely careful with driving and other risky activities because the combination of dizziness with drowsiness can be hazardous. These medications can also slow down natural recovery or impair rehabilitation.
Some patients, who have a particularly stubborn type of dizziness such as the unsteadiness that occurs following a stroke, require physical therapy (vestibular rehabilitation) in order to see improvement.
Reduction of Inner Ear Fluid Build-up
Ménière’s disease can often be improved by decreasing the amount of sodium in the inner ear. A very low salt (sodium) diet combined with a water pill (diuretic) that eliminates sodium from the body is usually very effective. If you take water pills, make sure to have blood tests to assure your potassium does not get too low.
Steroids can occasionally help but they may have many side effects. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor.
Inner Ear Injections
For Ménière’s disease and a few other uncommon ear disorders, “transtympanic injections” of medications may be of some benefit. These medications can include steroids to decrease inflammation, or medications, like Gentamicin, which can selectively affect the inner ear. Gentamicin has been used as a way of destroying the inner ear without surgery. In progressive treatments, it can destroy the balance portion of the inner ear, leading to fewer dizzy spells. Gentamicin treatments require several visits in which the medication is placed through a small hole created in the ear drum. Careful monitoring is necessary regarding the amount of medication used because the best dose for each person can vary greatly. However, these treatments can lead to persistent unsteadiness and hearing loss. Thus, these treatments are more often recommended for the elderly or those who already have a significant hearing loss. Also, there is a small risk that the intentional perforation of the eardrum will not heal or may become infected.