How to Treat Vertigo with Exercises

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Vertigo can cause spinning of vision
Vertigo can cause spinning of vision (Image: Drawings by Jane Schwartz Gates)

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)is a temporary condition of the inner ear that can destroy a person's sense of balance. In most cases it will cure itself but it will take time. In people under 50 it is most frequently caused by a head injury, or, possibly is linked with some kinds of migraine. Unfortunately, it becomes more common with aging and no one yet knows exactly why it happens. Some relief can be found with over-the-counter drugs, but there are exercises your doctor can help you with and that you can continue at home to help speed healing.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is believed to be caused by small crystals of calcium carbonate (called "otoconia") that float loose inside the inner ear. This creates a dizziness that can vary from light-headedness to a complete flipping and spinning of visual responses making it impossible to tell what is up and what is down. The latter symptoms can be totally disabling.

Always go to your doctor first to get a proper diagnosis.

The Epley maneuver is also called the particle repositioning, canalith repositioning procedure. It is a relatively easy exercise that is usually performed in the doctor's office and involves moving different positions of the head to release the positioning of the crystals in the inner ear. It works well in 80% of patients.

The Brandt-Daroff Exercises are a method of treating BPPV that also can be done at home.

This exercise has the sufferer sit on the edge of a bed looking forward for 30 seconds.

Brandt-Daroff exercises position one
Brandt-Daroff exercises position one

Then the person lies on one side with the head laying flat on the surface of the bed, but the face tilted slightly upward for another 30 seconds or until the dizziness settles.

Brandt-Daroff exercises position two
Brandt-Daroff exercises position two

The next position is to sit again for 30 seconds.

Brandt-Daroff exercises position three
Brandt-Daroff exercises position three

The the fourth and fifth are to do the same thing on the opposite side. The pattern is repeated 5 times taking a total of 10 minutes.

Brandt-Daroff exercises position four
Brandt-Daroff exercises position four

These exercises are performed 2 - 3 times/day for 2 - 3 weeks for a total of 52 sets. Most people get complete relief after about 10 days or 30 sets.

In many cases the symptoms will go away on their own, but it can take six months or more for some people to experience complete relief. Seeing the doctor and adding these exercises will speed up the process considerably.

If you have experienced Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, -- especially if it's happened more than once -- you can treat vertigo with these exercises at home to heal faster or, once healed, you can do a single set occasionally to discourage future episodes of BPPV. For more information on how to treat vertigo with exercises, please check the Resource below.

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