Healthy Living

Relieve vertigo dizziness w/non-drug approach

Thursday, June 09, 2011

People with vertigo never quite know when the dizziness will set in. Over two million Americans live their life that way.

But there's a simple non-drug approach to relieve the dizziness.

"I woke up one morning, and I rose up, and I was spinning uncontrollably," said avid gardener Shelby Bearden.

Bearden suffered from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and it can be triggered just by moving your head.

It begins in the ears. Normally, crystals called otoliths move around in the semicircular canals in the inner ear, touching tiny hair cells which send information about your head's position to your brain.

But when one of those crystals becomes stuck in a canal, it makes the hair cells respond to changes in position that aren't really happening. That leads to the dizziness and nausea.

Kristy Olthoff is a physical therapist certified in vestibular rehab. She uses a special set of maneuvers called a "canalith repositioning procedure" to get people with BPPV back on their feet.

"I turn her head to the right, lay back with her head extended," said Olthoff. "That caused the crystal in the right posterior canal to move into this position down here. Typically, with one session, with one treatment people have no symptoms."

The exercises might seem simple, but Olthoff warns to not try it at home.

"It can be very dangerous," said Olthoff. "You don't know which ear is involved and there are three canals in both ears."

Thanks to Olthoff, Bearden is no longer feeling dizzy.

"She cured me in one session," said Bearden. "One session after six months of my life being on hold."

About 20 percent of people with vertigo actually have BPPV. In about half of all cases there is no clear cause, but when one can be pinpointed it's usually due to a head injury.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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