Anyone who has ever suffered from a bout of vertigo knows how debilitating it can be. Several years ago I rolled over in bed and the world started spinning. When I tried to get up from the side of the bed, once again the room began tilting and I became nauseated. Thus began my introduction to the upside down world of vertigo (BPPV). I am not the only one to suffer. Here is a message from a reader:
Q. I suffered for more than a month with vertigo. My doctor prescribed a 7-day “bubble pack” of steroid, an antihistamine, and meclizine for dizziness. None of it helped much.
Then I found the Epley maneuver. A licensed physical therapist did this simple procedure and in one session my vertigo was gone! Please tell people about this.
A. Vertigo (a sensation of spinning or whirling) can be caused by several conditions. If the diagnosis is vertigo (BPPV), also known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, then medications won’t help very much. That’s because little calcium crystals (canaliths) have moved out of their normal position within the ear canal. Rolling over in bed or changing head position can be very disorienting.
The Epley Maneuver for Vertigo (BPPV):
The Epley maneuver, named for ear surgeon John Epley, involves rotating the head through several positions to reorient the crystals. We encourage people to be evaluated by an otolaryngologist and have a skilled therapist perform the maneuver initially. An article in the journal Neurology (July 24, 2012) reported that YouTube videos can successfully assist patients with BPPV learn how to mange the procedure at home.
When I (Joe) went to the otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) I was tested to make sure nothing bad was going on. Then a skilled audio technologist performed the Epley. Within minutes I was feeling better for the first time in weeks. When I asked her if people come to the doctor’s office after years of frustration she confided that it happens all the time. People with vertigo (BPPV) are often put on medications that don’t work all that well. They suffer for months or years when a relatively simple procedure could end their misery.
In my case, the benign positional vertigo came back. Once agin the Epley maneuver helped reverse the problem. Apparently this is not that unusual. The crystals in the ear canal can move around and the procedure may have to be repeated periodically to get them back where they belong. Here are some stories from readers who had similar experiences:
“I too have had BPV [benign positional vertigo]. I went to see my ENT and after a normal hearing test was sent to a physical therapist who performed the Epley maneuvers which worked very well for me. I went for two treatments and was given exercises to do at home. Good luck, as it is a miserable feeling.”
CG met Dr. Epley and reports:
“I live in the same city as Dr. Epley, so when he was still practicing, I was lucky enough to be treated by the good doctor himself. You can learn to do the Epley maneuvers at home, but it’s best to find an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor (ENT) or a vestibular physiotherapist trained in the maneuvers first, if possible. Performing the maneuvers incorrectly can prolong the misery.”
Mary shares this story:
“I have had the Epley done to me a few times, and silly as it seems, it works. I went to an audiologist and she did this. I was amazed. No meds, no needles and it didn’t take very long, Who knew? This is wonderful help for those of us that have this problem. I didn’t even know there were crystals in my inner ears, Thank Goodness for this.”