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BMJ Group Medical Reference

Betahistine is a drug that lowers the amount of fluid in the inner ear. Its brand name is Serc.

We don't know if betahistine helps people with Ménière's disease. We found seven studies (called randomised controlled trials) of this drug but some of them weren't very good. [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

Overall, these studies found that betahistine didn't seem to work any better than a dummy treatment (a placebo) for hearing problems.

In two other small studies, some people took betahistine and others took another drug called trimetazidine. [41] [42] In both studies, trimetazidine and betahistine worked equally well for people's hearing and tinnitus symptoms (ringing in the ears). But one of the studies found that trimetazidine worked better than betahistine for vertigo ( dizziness). [41]

One of the studies we looked at found that betahistine may increase headaches. [40]



A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

For more terms related to Ménière's disease


For references related to Ménière's disease click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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