MEDICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH DIZZINESS

Timothy C. Hain, MD.Return to Index. •Content last updated: October 26, 2018

Almost everyone has taken a medication and become dizzy. Compendiums of medications such as the PDR list dizziness as a side effect for nearly all medications.

A brief list of frequently encountered medications in dizzy people follows:

Anticonvulsants
(e.g., phenytoin, carbamazepine, pregabalin)
Antihypertensives and drugs with hypotension as side effects
Adrenergic blockers (e.g., propranolol, terazosin)
Diuretics (e.g., furosemide)
Vasodilators (e.g., isosorbide)
Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline)
Phenothiazines (e.g., chlorpromazine)
Ototoxic drugs and vestibular suppressants
some of the mycin antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin)
Anticholinergics (e.g., transdermal scopolamine, promethazine, amitriptyline, meclizine)
Loop diuretics (furosemide)
cis-platinum
Psychotropic agents
Sedatives (e.g., barbiturates and benzodiazepines)
Drugs with Parkinsonism as side effects (e.g., phenothiazines)
Drugs with anticholinergic side effects ( e.g., amitriptyline)
Miscellaneous drugs
amiodarone (mainly used for atrial fibrillation)
flecainide

Here are some general principles, mainly having to do with overdosing:

  1. Almost anything will make you sick if you take too much.
  2. Medications that get into your brain are more likely to make you dizzy. This includes many psychotropic and anticonvulsant medications.
  3. Medications to lower blood pressure are very likely to make you faint if you take too much. This logic applies to nearly any blood pressure or heart medication.
  4. Medications to lower blood sugar, such as those used to treat diabetes, are likely to make you dizzy if you take too much
  5. Medications that are to treat dizziness can also make you dizzy.

There are also certain individual medications that have a high propensity to cause dizziness. These include:

  1. Ototoxins such as gentamicin
  2. A cardiac medication called "amiodarone", and a similar one called "flecainide".
  3. A neuropathy medication called "pregabalin"

Finally, certain groups of people are more vulnerable to dizziness due to medication.

  1. Anxious people
  2. migraine

 

REFERENCES:

  • Gentzkow, G. D. and J. Y. Sullivan (1984). "Extracardiac adverse effects of flecainide." Am J Cardiol 53(5): 101B-105B.
  • Hindle, J. V., et al. (2008). "Ataxia caused by amiodarone in older people." Age Ageing 37(3): 347-348.
  • Willis, M. S. and A. M. Lugo (2009). "Amiodarone-induced neurotoxicity." Am J Health Syst Pharm 66(6): 567-569.
  • Zaccara, G., et al. (2011). "The adverse event profile of pregabalin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Epilepsia 52(4): 826-836.