Did You Know…that the most common cause of vertigo can be treated at home easily, painlessly, and without drugs?
Vertigo is a sudden sensation that you’re spinning. It can range from mild to so severe it causes vomiting and a complete inability to perform daily activities. Not only that, vertigo can be very frightening! Fortunately, the most common cause of vertigo is quite harmless—it’s called paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the form most likely to affect people over 60.
BPPV is usually triggered by movements of the head—for example, bending over, lying down or standing up, or even turning over in bed. What happens is that as you change position, the tiny calcium carbonate crystals of your inner ear move too, and they settle into areas of the ear that tell your brain you’re moving even though you’re not.
A Simple Maneuver to Stop Vertigo
Although vertigo feels terrible and can be terrifying, it can most often it can be cured with a simple maneuver you can do at home. “When you tell patients that all you have to do is move your head in a few different directions, they think you’re crazy,” Dr. John Oghalai, an otolaryngologist at Stanford University, told the New York Times. But, said Dr. Oghalai, when patients find their vertigo gone with a nonpharmacological, nonsurgical treatment lasting 10 or 20 minutes, they love it.
If you have vertigo, your doctor can quickly and easily tell you which type you have and which ear it comes from. If BPPV is the cause, as it most often is, you can likely get relief from the Epley Maneuver, developed by Dr. John Epley in 1980.
Epley Maneuver for Vertigo
For vertigo that originates in left ear:
- While sitting on the edge of your bed, turn your head 45 degrees to the left. Put a pillow on your bed positioned so that when you lie down, it will support your shoulders rather than your head.
- Quickly lie down (pillow under your shoulders), face up, with your head on the bed. Your head should still be turned 45 degrees to the left. Wait 30 seconds for any vertigo to stop.
- Turn your head halfway (90 degrees) to the right, but don’t raise your head. Wait 30 seconds.
- Turn your head and your body on its side to the right (so you are now looking at the floor). Wait 30 seconds.
- Slowly sit up, but remain on the bed a few minutes.
If the vertigo comes from your right ear, reverse these instructions. Perform these movements 3 times nightly before bed, until you have gone 24 hours without dizziness.
Doctors recommend that until your dizziness is completely gone, you should try to avoid tilting your head too far up or down. If you don’t feel better after a week of trying these moves, talk to your doctor again. It’s possible you’re not doing the exercises right, but your doctor might also want to check for other causes of your dizziness.