In the US alone, millions of people suffer from vertigo. Vertigo is the name given to the sensation of vertigo dizziness where you feel like the room is spinning around you. There are many problems that may cause vertigo and dizziness, such as vestibular migraines, a head injury, vestibular nerve damage or other vestibular disorder, hearing loss, inner ear damage, motion sickness, and many others. However, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV), is the most common form of this vertigo and dizziness. Millions of people have benign paroxysmal and have to deal with it every day. It is not a fatal condition, nor is it debilitating in any way. It can, however, make life very uncomfortable for you. The treatment of vertigo can be done in many ways—one of the most common of which is the Epley maneuver. However, the half somersault maneuver is a new invention by Dr. Carol Foster.
TRADITIONAL BPPV TREATMENT: THE EPLEY MANEUVER
The Epley Maneuver is the most popular treatment method for vertigo BPPV today. It is performed by a trained doctor, usually an ENT specialist. You’re required to lie down, turn your head towards the side that experiences vertigo and wait. The doctor will then drag you back so that your head hangs over the edge of the bed. The doctor then turns your head in different directions, changes your position, and does some other complicated steps. At the end of this, there is an 80% chance that your vertigo will be cured. The Epley maneuver is miraculous and works very well indeed. What happens when you don’t have the time or the money to visit a specialist?
HOW VERTIGO COMES ABOUT
To learn how to treat vertigo, you need to understand how and why it happens. If you took biology in school, you know that your body uses your ears to balance itself. This doesn’t happen through sound but through otoconia. These are tiny rocks of calcium carbonate in your inner ear. They sense the pull of gravity and move with it. The signals generated by these rocks as they fall are what keep you balanced and coordinated. Since it doesn’t rely on sound, it also means that deaf people can still keep their balance, although it is a little harder to do so.
Vertigo happens when these rocks get knocked out of their positions and enter parts of your middle ear. These parts, called the semicircular canals, are responsible for the sensation of turning. When the otoconia fall into them and touch the little hairs lining the insides of these canals, all hell breaks loose. Your body starts receiving balance signals that make no sense at all. Since the semicircular canals are being stimulated, your brain interprets the incoming signals as a sign that you are spinning violently when in fact you are completely still.
WHEN IS VERTIGO MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR?
Many people experience mild vertigo when standing up from a prone position. However, the most severe episodes occur when rolling over to one side in bed. If this is the side with the dislodged otoconia, you’re in trouble. The dizziness is extreme, although it is short-lived. If you turn your head while sitting or standing, severe dizziness can ensure here too.
HOW DOES THE HALF SOMERSAULT MANEUVER HELP?
The Half Somersault Maneuver is an exercise devised by Dr. Carol Foster, who is a sufferer of vertigo herself. It is a procedure that attempts to restore the otoconia to their natural position. This takes them out of the semi-circular canals in your ears and back to where they should be. It literally rolls the rocks out of your canals and back. There are three semicircular canals. The otoconia usually fall into the first, which deals with vertical turning (up and down). Depending on the ear affected, the exercise varies.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU DO THE HALF SOMERSAULT
This maneuver relies on correct information. You need to know which ear is affected before you do the maneuver. The best way to do this is to get a test done called the Hallpike test. An ENT specialist can do this to determine which of your ears has it worse. After this, you need to consult a doctor to make sure you’re allowed to do the maneuver at home. It is relatively safe, but must still only be done after getting the approval of a professional.
HOW TO DO THE MANEUVER
- Start from a kneeling position, then sit back on your calves. Keep your palms on the floor at shoulder width just ahead of your knees. Curve your back inwards and strain your neck upwards so you are looking at the ceiling. This is the starting position.
- Bend your head down so the top of your head touches the floor in front of your knees. You can bend your elbows. This is the same position you would start a somersault with if you wanted to do one. Don’t do a somersault.
- In this somersault position, turn your head towards the direction where you have the worst vertigo. Do this so you are looking at that elbow.
- Now, raise your head and body quickly so you’re parallel to the floor, but keep your head turned to the side the entire time.
- Lift just your head up above the level of your body, by the neck.
- Return to your starting position.
Remember to take your time between steps. Always wait for any dizziness to subside before moving on to the next step. If you’re also doing the Epley maneuver at home, don’t do them both one after the other. There is a chance of the otoconia falling into the semicircular canals responsible for horizontal turning instead.
HOW TO TREAT A BAD MANEUVER
If the otoconia do go the wrong way, don’t worry. Go to an ENT specialist immediately and tell them what happened. You will probably have the Gufoni maneuver done to you to bring the rocks back to the initial canal. The half-somersault maneuver can be incredibly effective and less time-consuming than the other maneuvers. It also has a higher success rate and fewer risks. If you want to save time treating your BPPV, it is time to start using Dr. Foster’s maneuver right now!