Vertigo is extremely scary when it occurs.
Emergency departments and hospitals commonly see people with vertigo, fearing that they are suffering a stroke. Sometimes, these patients are right, as vertigo and stroke occasionally occur alongside each other.
But the treatment for the most common type of vertigo is actually quite simple according to a new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is by far the most common form of vertigo.
It occurs when calcium carbonate particles—”otoconia”—fall into the semicircular canals in your inner ears. These otoconia are meant to remain inside your utricle, an organ just beside these canals.
When the otoconia roll around inside these canals, they irritate the hair-like structures that send balance-related information to your brain. The result is an intense spinning sensation.
As it is the most common form of vertigo, a research team from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota decided to carry out a literature review on the ability of one of the most common vertigo treatments—the Epley maneuver, also known as the canalith repositioning procedure—to cure it.
This maneuver consists of head movements that guide the otoconia out of your semicircular canals so that they can no longer impair your balance.
The researchers pored through medical databases for the best studies on the use of the Epley maneuver to treat vertigo. They were particularly interested in other literature reviews rather than individual studies.
What did they conclude?
1. All of the reviews backed the effectiveness of the Epley maneuver to treat vertigo.
2. In all the reviews, the participants generally reported the clearing of symptoms within seven days, and again within 30 days of the treatment.
3. The Epley maneuver was directly effective after seven days.
4. Some participants reported nausea during the maneuver, but this was temporary and ceased when the maneuver ended.
So, what is the Epley maneuver?
Before you can properly do it, you must determine whether your problem is in your left ear or your right ear. To do this, lie on a bed with your head hanging just off the edge and try turning it 45° to each side. The side on which you experience the most vertigo is the side that you should treat.
If your problem is in the right ear, take the following steps.
1. Sit on your bed and turn your head 45 degrees to the right.
2. Lie back and recline your head off the edge of the bed with your head in the same position.
3. After 30 seconds, turn your head 90 degrees to the left while keeping it reclined. You should now be looking 45 degrees to the left.
4. After 30 seconds, turn both your head and your body 90 degrees to the left. You are now lying on your side with your face down into the bed.
5. Sit back up.
If your problem is in your left ear, interpret these steps in the opposite manner.
You should start to feel the positive effects soon after you complete the maneuver. However, if it does not work after your first attempt, repeat it twice daily for a few days.
Of course, the Epley maneuver does not work for everyone, and it only works for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a specific type of vertigo.
Fortunately, there are other types of vertigo exercises—explained here—that work for all types of vertigo…