People with vertigo can get relief by doing maneuvers at home, according to a study published in the July 13 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study involved people with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, an inner ear problem that causes a feeling of spinning or whirling when you move your head into certain positions. The vertigo usually lasts less than a minute. It can be mild or severe enough to cause nausea. It affects an estimated 64 people in every 100,000.
This type of vertigo is believed to be caused by loose particles floating in the inner ear canal, which maintains the body's equilibrium. Certain head and body movements can clear the particles from the ear canal. In general, the maneuvers are performed by a doctor or therapist.
"For most people, one treatment is all it takes to stop the vertigo," said study author Andrea Radtke, MD, a neurologist with Charité Campus Virchow Clinic in Berlin, Germany. "But some people need repeated treatments before it resolves completely. For these people, it would be beneficial to have the option to treat themselves at home."
The study involved 70 people who had experienced vertigo for an average of eight weeks. The study tested two different maneuvers. Both of the maneuvers involve head and body movements performed while sitting on a bed. Half of the people performed one maneuver and half performed the other. They received instructions for the maneuver and performed it once with the doctor. Then they performed the exercise three times a day at home until the vertigo had stopped for at least 24 hours.
After one week, 95 percent of those who performed the maneuver called the modified Epley's procedure had no more symptoms. Of those performing the modified Semont maneuver, 58 percent had no more symptoms.