Vertigo, Dizziness, Disequilibrium: Battling Chronic Nausea

We’ve all been sick at one point or another, and everyone knows what it’s like to be nauseous.

But when you live with Meniere’s disease, or any other vestibular disorder, you’re probably more intimately familiar with nausea than most.

When your vestibular system is compromised, and vertigo, dizziness, or disequilibrium strikes, nausea occurs because your brain, suddenly in shock, thinks you may have been poisoned.

Nausea and vomiting are defense mechanisms triggered to get the poison out.

But of course it doesn’t work, because there is no poison, and the nausea remains.

Most people have an idea of what to do when nausea strikes, but you have far more options than you might have realized.

(DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or a medical professional. All medications and treatments have side effects and may interact negatively with medications that you are currently taking. Speak with your doctor before trying anything suggested here. Click here for the full disclaimer.)

Isopropyl Alcohol Vapor Inhalation:

This was a new one for me, and while it’s backed up by research, it’s efficacy seems to vary from person to person. But the basic premise is simple enough that you can try this one right away.

All you have to do is take three inhalations of 70% isopropyl alcohol vapors every 15 minutes as needed.

The studies were done with isopropyl alcohol wipes, but there’s no reason you can’t pour a small amount onto a paper towel instead.

(If you have 90% isopropyl alcohol, just make sure to dilute it down with water first.)

Why this actually works to stop nausea is unclear. But it does work and it’s something most people already have lying around their house.

Additional information:

Isopropyl alcohol inhalation as treatment for nausea and vomiting

Humming/Singing:

I wasn’t able to find any research behind this method, but anecdotally, many people have reported that humming and or singing can prevent you from vomiting when you feel nauseous. It won’t make the nausea go away, but in some situations, not vomiting is the best possible outcome.

At the very least, if you’re feeling nauseous and you don’t have any other options, it can’t hurt to give it a try.

Acupressure/Motion Sickness Bands:

There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that motion sickness wristbands can help to reduce vertigo and dizziness-related nausea. It may not work for everyone, but it’s a very low risk approach to managing nausea.

The basic principal here is that the band applies physical pressure or stimulation the a Traditional Chinese Medicine acupressure point on the inside of the wrist known to reduce nausea.

Some noteworthy brands:

Psi Bands Acupressure Wristbands: A simple and inexpensive motion sickness acupressure wristband with adjustable pressure settings.

Reliefband Motion Sickness Device: Uses a small electrical current to stimulate the pressure point. More expensive but has great reviews when it comes to relieving nausea.

Ayurvedic Nausea Remedies:

There are several good Ayurvedic treatments for nausea. These home remedies are simple, yet effective, and have been used for thousands of years.

The most common treatment (that you probably know about) is ginger root. It can be consumed as tea or in capsules, and according to the Sai Ayurvedic College:

“Ginger has volatile oils that aid digestion, soothes the irritated linings, and tones muscles of digestive tract. Ginger also stimulates liver to produce bile which helps in fat digestion. To overcome motion sickness, the first dose of ginger should be taken about three to four hours before travel.”

If you are having a bad symptom day, consuming ginger in one form or another may be a good preventative measure to prevent nausea from occurring. But it can also be used to help nausea when it occurs.

Alternatively, if you don’t have any ginger, peppermint tea is also known to be helpful with nausea.

Noteworthy brands:

Triple Leaf Ginger Tea: Contains 100% Ginger root and nothing else.

Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger Aid Tea: A highly rated organic ginger tea.

Heather’s Tummy Teas Organic Peppermint: A very highly rated organic peppermint tea.

Nausea Medications:

There are several medications, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription, that can treat nausea and vomiting. Some of them treat the nausea directly, while others work by reducing the vertigo and dizziness.

Meclazine (OTC: Bonine, Dramamine Less Drowsy, Generic, Prescription: Antivert):

Meclazine is technically an antihistamine, but its antiemetic (anti-nausea) properties and over-the-counter availability make it a commonly used medication to treat vertigo, dizziness and nausea. It’s also worth mentioning that Bonine (Motion Sickness Only) and Antivert are FDA approved to treat vertigo.

Dimenhydrinate (OTC: Dramamine, Generic):

Dimenhydrinate is another antihistamine with antiemetic properties. It’s more sedating than Meclazine and reported to be less effective at treating vertigo-induced nausea, but some people prefer it.

Promethazine (Prescription: Phenergan)

Promethazine is another sedating antihistamine drug that is used to treat vertigo and nausea. It is much stronger than the OTC antihistamines and available only by prescription. It’s also available as a suppository when a patient’s nausea is so severe that they cannot keep down oral medication.

Benzodiazepines (Prescription: Diazepam (Valium), Lorazepam (Ativan), Clonazepam (Klonopin):

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedative drugs that are often prescribed to vestibular patients to treat vertigo. They act as vestibular suppressants, reducing the signal from the vestibular system to the brain, which helps to reduce vertigo. In this way, they can also help to treat vertigo-related nausea.

Scopolamine Transdermal Patch (Prescription: Transderm Scop® Patch)

In some cases, doctors will prescribe scopolamine patches to help with vertigo-related nausea. They are antiemetic like the other drugs mentioned here, and can help to reduce nausea. The patches are designed to slowly release the medication through the skin over the course of three days.

Warning: While many of these medications have been used for decades, new research has linked use of some of these drugs (Meclazine and Dimenhydrinate included) with an increased risk of dementia. As I said before, talk with your doctor first.

Medical Marijuana:

Medical Marijuana is unfortunately not legal in many states (or federally), but it has long been used for its anti-nausea properties in a wide variety of applications. If you live in a state with legalized medical marijuana, I encourage you to speak with your doctor. But because it exists in a legal gray area, that’s all I am going to say about it here.

Additional Information:

Cannabis to Ease Meniere’s Symptoms

References:

Trick of the Trade: Isopropyl Alcohol Vapor Inhalation for Nausea and Vomiting

A Pharmacist’s Guide to Meniere’s Disease

Managing Nausea & Vomiting with Ayurveda

Medical Treatment of Vertigo

Treatment of Meniere’s Disease

  1. Thank you Glenn!
    Have not tried yet Isopropyl Alcohol Vapor Inhalation. Just started humming, thought not for nausea, but hoping it will re-set my brain and I would stop rocking, and bobbing and swaying ( I have Mdds, not Meniere’s – but there are many similarities).

    • You’re welcome Nátali! The isopropyl alcohol vapor inhalation was new to me too. Actually learning about it was the reason I wrote this post in the first place!

  2. I have found ginger tea to be effective at calming the stomach. I have tried the bands and various other treatments (including acupuncture) and found none of them effective aside from medications which have been tested for efficacy. Meclizine does little for nausea in my estimation. It does help with light dizziness, but when it becomes full vertigo (as it did two nights ago) nothing short of promethazine will keep the gorge down.

    I haven’t tried alcohol fumes. I’ll check that out next time I feel some light nausea. Shouldn’t be long now.

    • As a side note, it’s interesting that Meclazine is FDA approved for vertigo. VEDA is about to release a publication by one of their board members (who is a neurotologist) about how Meclazine is technically approved for vertigo, but really does little more than help with nausea.

      Let us know how it goes with the vapor inhalation! Just make sure to stick to the protocol from the studies: 3 breaths of a 70% isopropyl wipe (or a little on a paper towel) every 15 minutes.

      • When I first started down this Meniere’s path a decade and more ago, Meclizine was my go-to. Took it all the time. Was taking it just about daily. These days I find I can manage without it, I just deal with the minor annoyance of light dizziness, and only resort to drugs (which generally starts with my sinus cocktail of Guaifenesin/pseudoephedrine and graduates to Xanax at the other end) when the ear is painful and the dizzy threatens to become major (days like today) I almost never take Meclizine anymore, but I still like it and would recommend it for people who have trouble coping with light dizziness. It just isn’t effective against the really tough bouts of vertigo that come with my Meniere’s.

  3. Another one is Metoclopramide or Reglan. They used it on me in the ER and it worked well. I now use it as needed.
    Also, a VERY cheap mechlazine is sold in the U.S. at the Costco pharmacy counter. (Non members can buy there too.) The brand is Rugby and is $4.19 for 100 tablets! Significantly cheaper then Bonine by a considerable amount!

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