Q. Can Betahistine cause shortness of breath and pleural effusion?

Answered by
Dr. Muhammad Shoyab
and medically reviewed by Dr.Lekshmipriya B
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 30, 2022 and last reviewed on: Dec 23, 2022

Hello doctor,

Please find the attached lungs x-ray I took today. Please let me know what you think about it. The symptom associated is shortness of breath.



Welcome to

I have scrutinized both views of your chest X-ray (attachments removed to protect the patient's identity)and can assure you that the lung fields are absolutely clear. However, the lowermost edges of the lungs (known as posterior costophrenic (CP) angles) do not appear sharp; that is, they are obscured by dense opacity. That could represent a small amount of pleural effusion, that is, fluid collection around the lungs.

Since you have not mentioned any other symptom than shortness of breath, I can not evaluate or explain right at this moment why you had effusion. Bilateral pleural effusion can sometimes represent systemic problems like heart, liver, or kidney problems, or maybe there is some inflammatory change in the pleurae themselves.

I would suggest you consult your internal medicine specialist, also known as an internist, who can make an overall assessment of your health and advise you further. Until then, I would suggest you not be worried — you are a young, healthy man, and perhaps the X-ray finding is a transient matter.

Wishing you all the best, and we are always open to addressing your queries whenever they arise.

Best regards.

Treatment plan:

Consult a general physician or internal medicine specialist.

Hello doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

I have noticed no other symptoms other than shortness of breath for two weeks. I have done my heart checkup and blood tests and all are fine. I have been on Betahistine for a vertigo issue for a month and a half. Do you think it may be connected with the pleural effusion? As the shortness of breath appeared after approximately two weeks after starting the Betahistine (Serc).



Welcome back to

Betahistine itself is reported to produce some breathing difficulty by way of allergic reaction to the drug. I think that can produce some effusion too. So, since your breathing problems started after taking the drug, I consider it logical to get back to your concerned doctor and discuss whether you could do with an alternate.

In fact, drug side effects affect different people in different ways, and sometimes it may be some trial and error to pick the one that is best for you. I hope your concerned doctor will guide you through those steps.

I hope you find the information useful, and we are always eager to hear from you.

Best regards.

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