The use of medication in treating vestibular disorders depends on whether the vestibular system dysfunction is in an initial or acute phase (lasting up to 5 days) or chronic phase (ongoing).
During the acute phase, and when other illnesses have been ruled out, medications that may be prescribed include vestibular suppressants to reduce motion sickness or anti-emetics to reduce nausea. Vestibular suppressants include three general drug classes: anticholinergics, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines. Examples of vestibular suppressants are meclizine and dimenhydinate (antihistamine-anticholinergics) and lorazepam and diazepam (benzodiazepines).
Other medications that may be prescribed are steroids (e.g., prednisone), antiviral drugs (e.g., acyclovir), or antibiotics (e.g., amoxicillin) if a middle ear infection is present. If nausea has been severe enough to cause excessive dehydration, intravenous fluids may be given.
During the chronic phase, symptoms must be actively experienced without interference in order for the brain to adjust, a process called vestibular compensation. Any medication that makes the brain sleepy, including all vestibular suppressants, can slow down or stop the process of compensation. Therefore, they are often not appropriate for long-term use. Physicians generally find that most patients who fail to compensate are either strictly avoiding certain movements, using vestibular suppressants daily, or both.