BMA Concise Guide to Medicine & Drugs


Brand name Serc

Used in the following combined preparations None


Drug group Drug for Ménière’s disease

Overdose danger rating High

Dependence rating Low

Prescription needed Yes

Available as generic Yes


Betahistine, a drug that resembles the naturally occurring substance histamine in some of its effects, was introduced in the 1970s as a treatment for Ménière’s disease, which is caused by the pressure of excess fluid in the inner ear.

Taken regularly, betahistine reduces both the frequency and the severity of the nausea and vertigo attacks that characterize this condition. It may also be used to treat tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss as a result of Ménière’s disease. Betahistine is thought to work by reducing pressure in the inner ear, possibly by improving blood flow in the small blood vessels around the inner ear. Drug treatment is not successful in all cases, and surgery may be needed.


Your drug prescription is tailored for you. Do not alter dosage without checking with your doctor.

How taken/used Tablets.

Frequency and timing of doses 3 x daily with or after food.

Adult dosage range 24–48mg daily.

Onset of effect Usually within 1 hour, but full effect may not be reached for some time.

Duration of action 6–12 hours.

Diet advice None.

Storage Keep in original container at room temperature out of the reach of children.

Missed dose Take as soon as you remember. If your next dose is due within 2 hours, take a single dose now and skip the next.

Stopping the drug Do not stop the drug without consulting your doctor; symptoms may recur.


Seek immediate medical advice in all cases. Large overdoses may cause collapse and seizures requiring emergency action.


Adverse effects from betahistine are minor and rarely cause problems. Nausea, indigestion, headache, and itching may occur. Rarely, a rash may develop; if so, consult your doctor.


Antihistamines Although unproven, there is a possibility that betahistine may reduce the effects of these drugs, and antihistamines may reduce the effects of betahistine.


Be sure to tell your doctor if:

· You have asthma.

· You have a history of peptic ulcers.

· You have lactose intolerance.

· You have phaeochromocytoma.

· You are taking other medicines.

Pregnancy Safety in pregnancy not established. Discuss with your doctor.

Breast-feeding The drug may pass into the breast milk, and effects on the baby are unknown, but at normal doses adverse effects are unlikely. Discuss with your doctor.

Infants and children Not recommended.

Over 60 No special problems.

Driving and hazardous work Avoid such activities until you have learned how the drug affects you because rarely it may cause drowsiness.

Alcohol No special problems.


No special problems.