'Positional maneuver' can treat dizziness

A few years ago, my husband couldn’t roll out of bed without feeling dizzy. Our family doctor referred him to an otolaryngologist who sent him home with a motion sickness prescription. Worse than dizziness, the meds made him groggy.

Still looking for relief from revolving-room syndrome and nausea, he consulted another doctor, who put him in a special chair and tipped it at an uncomfortable angle. Called the Epley maneuver, the doctor timed abrupt changes of Paul’s position from side to side.

“I’m cured,” Paul said, returning home after the chair-tipping rearranged the tiny crystals of the inner ear.

Every six months he’d need a tune-up, so he’d jump back in the tipping chair and come home with properly positioned inner ear crystals, and no more dizziness.

An inveterate do-it-yourself-er, Paul googled his diagnosis, “positional vertigo,” and discovered the Brant-Daroff exercise for vertigo. Now he does the exercises at home, alleviating the vertigo and wooziness.

A true believer, he proselytizes to our dizzy friends. Lately he whisked Judy, a positional vertigo sufferer, away from our book group. He took her downstairs to our bedroom, where he put her on our bed, and demonstrated the Brant-Daroff maneuver.

My friends guffawed about my husband in the master bedroom with our friend. However, they missed my real embarrassment: We hadn’t made the bed.

What both my husband Paul and friend, Judy, suffered from is described in Mayoclinic.org as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). There are three loop-shaped semicircular canals containing fluid and fine, hair-like sensors that monitor the rotation of the head. Against the walls of the inner ear between the semicircular ducts and the cochlea, lie patches of hair cells topped by small calcium carbonate crystals. These crystals monitor all head movements related to gravity. Due to trauma, whiplash, aging, ear diseases or unknown causes, these crystals become dislodged and move into one of the semicircular canals.

Whoa! Rolling over or sitting up causes destabilizing disequilibrium.

The Vestibular Disorders Association says the Brandt-Daroff exercises have been reported to reduce dizziness in 95 percent of the cases.

At his next ear appointment my husband handed the doctor a copy of the Brant-Daroff exercises he’d copied from the internet. “Why do doctors write prescriptions for motion sickness meds instead of handing out copies of Brandt-Daroff?” he asked his doctor.

“My patients won’t do the exercises,” the doctor answered.

Feelings of dizziness and nausea deserve a visit to the doctor. However, if benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the diagnosis, googling the Brandt-Daroff exercises, following the directions, and timing carefully may put the BPPV sufferer in the 95 percent who can cure their symptoms at home.

Paul and Judy are proof that the home remedy works.

Carrie Luger Slayback, an award winning teacher and champion marathoner, shares personal experience and careful research. Contact her at carriemisc@icloud.com.

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