Simple Home Remedy for Vertigo Works
Self-Treatment Can Improve Management of Condition, Study Shows
July 12, 2004 -- If the word "vertigo" conjures images of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, it's a good bet you don't have it. For those who do, the severity of the dizziness that is the main symptom of this condition can range from simply annoying to life altering.
While the causes of the most common type of vertigo are complex, the treatment can be simple. So simple, in fact, that new research suggests patients can have as much success treating their condition at home as in a doctor's office.
The study found that 95% of patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo had no further episodes of dizziness a week after beginning a simple and well-tolerated physical therapy regimen at home. Known as the Epley procedure, the maneuver is the most widely used treatment for this type of vertigo in the U.S., but it is typically performed by a physician or physical therapist in a medical setting.
"At-home treatment is really a much more effective method of managing these symptoms," vertigo expert Timothy C. Hain, MD, tells WebMD. "For patients who know they have this type of vertigo, I don't see any downside to trying it."
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of dizziness, especially among older people. One study showed that roughly one in 10 people over the age of 75 had the condition, which is caused by small stones or crystals of calcium carbonate in the inner ear. These stones stimulate the nerves of the inner ear, causing dizziness.
The condition is also known as top-shelf vertigo because changes in head position such as looking up and down cause dizziness. Getting out of bed or rolling over in bed are common triggers.
Different head movement exercises have been used for decades to dislodge the crystals. Earlier at-home maneuvers were much less effective than those now commonly performed in a doctor's office.
In this study, published in the July issue of the journal Neurology, researcher Andrea Radtke, MD, and colleagues assessed the effectiveness of two of the newer maneuvers when performed at home without medical supervision.
Both of the maneuvers involved head and body movements performed while sitting on a bed. The maneuvers were done once in a doctor's office, and patients were then told to perform the exercise three times a day at home until they had no symptoms of vertigo for at least 24 hours.
Within a week, 95% of the patients who performed the modified Epley procedure had complete resolution of their symptoms, compared with 58% of patients who performed the other procedure.
How to Do It
Patients start by sitting on a bed and placing a pillow behind them so that it will be under their shoulders when they lie back. Then,