More than 42 percent of Americans experience dizziness or vertigo during their lifetimes. Many suffer in silence, assuming there is nothing that can be done for the disarming feeling of spinning or falling off balance.
You don’t have to suffer in silence from vertigo. A simple procedure known as the Epley maneuver has a 90-95 percent success rate in curing the most common cause of dizziness.
However, in about 20-50 percent of cases dizziness is actually caused by a disorder that’s incredibly easy, and fast, to treat — once it’s diagnosed. If you currently struggle with dizziness, you owe it to yourself to explore this condition, as it’s actually one of the most common causes of vertigo there is.
What is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?
BPPV causes mild to intense dizziness, which is often triggered by changing the position of your head (specifically, tipping your head up or down or lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed). Along with feelings of dizziness, you may also experience spinning sensations (vertigo), loss of balance, blurred vision, unsteadiness, nausea and vomiting. Abnormal rhythmic eye movements, or jumping of the eyes, are also common along with BPPV symptoms.
“Symptoms of BPPV are almost always precipitated by a change in head position. Getting out of bed and rolling over in bed are two common “problem” motions. Some people feel dizzy and unsteady when they tip their heads back to look up. An intermittent pattern of these symptoms is usual,” states the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA).
Because of this, some people with BPPV avoid certain movements and positions for years at a time, not realizing that there is a simple remedy in sight. Lisa Dransfield, director of physical therapy at the Balance and Vestibular Center at Associated Neurologists Physical Therapy in Connecticut tells NewsTimes:
“There are people who come to see me and say they haven’t turned their head in a certain direction for ten years or more. The sad thing is many have learned to adapt to this by driving without turning their head, not reaching for things, and not rolling onto their side in bed.
Their world becomes very small and limited, and they increase their risk of getting into accident.”
What Causes BPPV?
In people under 50, BPPV most often occurs following a head injury.
Structures in your inner ear contain calcium carbonate crystals (sometimes called “ear rocks”) that help you perceive movement and gravity. If these crystals become dislodged, they can bounce around your inner ear canals, leading to feelings of spinning, imbalance and vomiting.
BPPV can occur with no known cause, especially in older people, however it is often associated with a head injury. According to VEDA, “The most common cause of BPPV in people under age 50 is head injury.” Head injuries that occur from falls, playing sports, car accidents and any other cause may contribute to BPPV.
It is also associated with migraines and viruses of the ear, and any disorder that impacts the balance organs of your ear can also increase your risk of BPPV. The condition has also been occasionally reported following dental or inner ear surgery.
The Epley Maneuver: A Simple Treatment
A surgical procedure that involves using a bone plug to block a portion of your inner ear is sometimes recommended to treat BPPV, but make sure you do not consent to this treatment until your physician has tried a canalith repositioning procedure known as the Epley maneuver. As the Mayo Clinic states:
“Performed in your doctor’s office, the canalith repositioning procedure consists of several simple and slow maneuvers for positioning your head.
The goal is to move particles from the fluid-filled semicircular canals of your inner ear into a tiny bag-like open area (vestibule) that houses one of the otolith organs (utricle) in your ear where these particles don’t cause trouble and are more easily reabsorbed.
Each position is held for about 30 seconds after any symptoms or abnormal eye movements stop. This procedure is usually effective after one or two treatments.”
The Epley maneuver takes just 15 minutes for your physician to perform and may offer you relief to a problem that’s been plaguing you for years. A recent study published in the journal Physical Therapy even found that the odds of resolving BPPV were 22 times higher among those receiving the canalith repositioning procedure than in people receiving a sham treatment.
Following the treatment, your physician will give you home-care instructions to follow. Generally, your ear must not move below shoulder level for the rest of the day, and you cannot lie flat. When you sleep you will need to elevate your head on several pillows or sleep in a recliner.
One of the best parts about the Epley maneuver is that your physician can teach you how to do it, so you’ll likely be able to correct the problem yourself at home should it reoccur.
If you know of a friend or family member who has complained of unexplained vertigo and dizziness, please forward this article on to them. By seeing a health care practitioner who is knowledgeable about BPPV and the Epley maneuver, you may be able to find relief from chronic dizziness in as little as 15 minutes.
Make Sure You See the Right Health Care Practitioner …
Keep in mind that when seeking treatment for BPPV, any physician will not do. Many are not trained in the Epley maneuver, and some may not be familiar with BPPV or its appropriate natural treatments.
If you see a neurologist or another expert because you are dizzy or having head pain, and that expert is not familiar with BPPV, you could end up being misdiagnosed and prescribed drugs unnecessarily.
So be sure you’ve done your research when choosing a provider and, whether it is an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, a chiropractor, or another type of practitioner, be certain they have had adequate training and successful experience in dealing with and treating BPPV.
The canalith repositioning procedure is said to have a 90 percent to 95 percent success rate among BPPV patients.