BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a common cause of vertigo. It is characterised by episodes of intense feeling of spinning of the head.
The inner ear consists of the Labyrinth system, which is responsible for maintaining the overall balance of the body. The Labyrinth system contains calcium stones or crystals, which upon certain body movement tend to shift from its place causing a sensation of imbalance. Treatment of BPPV aims at bringing back these crystals to its normal place and restoring balance.
How Long Does BPPV Last?
People have recurrent episodes of BPPV. Each episode lasts for a maximum of a couple of minutes or at times more. If left untreated, episodes may continue even up to a week. Even with treatment, there is always a risk of recurrence in the future. The occurrences of these episodes are unpredictable and what triggers them is also a matter under investigation, which makes this condition difficult and frightening.
What are the Best Home Treatments for BPPV?
BPPV often improves by itself without any treatment. However, in advanced cases, medications may be necessary. A few home treatments are often recommended for management of the symptoms and for reducing the sensation of whirling or spinning. Some of these home precautionary methods are mentioned below.
It is advised to use 2 or more pillows at night while sleeping, to aid in head elevation.
- Avoid sleeping on the affected side.
- Avoid sudden movements and do not stand up directly; instead, sit for a while after waking up before standing up.
- Avoid movements that require bending or leaning over and movements that require tipping of the head backward.
- It is advised to stay cautious while sitting in a recliner, such as while visiting a dentist or a hair dresser.
- Avoid sports that require quick movements such as leaning over, lying flat on back, turning head etc.
- Install grab bars in bathroom and keep walking pathway clear to avoid injuries and accidents.
Other home treatments include exercises as mentioned below.
Balance Exercises. These are simple exercises, which help in aligning the calcium crystals in a normal position. This is done by standing tall with feet together and arms down followed by moving head from side to side. This helps in regaining balance and improvement of symptoms.
Epley Maneuver as the Best Home Treatment for BPPV. The following steps are recommended for vertigo from left ear issues.
- Sit by the edge of the bed with head turned to the left by 45 degree. Place a pillow on the bed such that upon lying down the pillow is more under the shoulder than the head.
- Lie down with head placed on the bed and not the pillow with head angled at 45 degrees. Wait for half a minute.
- Turn head perpendicularly to the right. Do not raise the head and wait for half a minute.
- Turn head and the body such that it faces the floor and wait for half a minute.
- Sit up for 5 minutes.
- It is recommended to do these exercises at least thrice before going to bed until you note symptom improvement.
Semont Maneuver. The steps are described for issues arising from left ear.
- Sit by the edge of the bed with head turned to the right at an angle of 45 degrees.
- Lie down on the left and stay there for half a minute.
- While maintaining the position of the head move quickly to lie down on the opposite side of the bed. Hold this position for half a minute and look down on the floor.
- Return back to sitting and maintain this posture for a while.
- Do these exercises 3 times before sleeping until symptoms improve.
Fosters Manoeuvre or Half Somersault for BPPV. This is one of the easiest exercises and the steps are described below.
- Kneel down and look at the ceiling for a couple of seconds.
- Touch the floor with head such that chin is tucked in and the head moves towards the knees. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Turn head towards the affected side and hold for 20 seconds.
- Raise head such that it is at the level of the back, while you are on your four. Turn your head at 45 degree and hold for 30 seconds.
- Raise your head to fully upright position while keeping head turned to shoulder of the affected side.
- Stand up slowly.
- Repeat for a couple of times daily until symptoms improve. Make sure you give a gap of more 15 minutes between each set.
Brandt-Daroff Exercise as a Home Remedy for BPPV.
- Seat in an upright position on the bed.
- Tilt head to about 45 degrees away from the side where you experience symptoms. Lie down on any one side with nose pointed upwards.
- Hold for half a minute and move back to sitting position.
- Now do it for the other side.
- It is advised to do these movements 3 to 5 times in each set; each set is done 3 times a day until there is improvement in the symptoms.
Practising the above mentioned exercises on a regular basis along with maintaining the precautionary measures helps in preventing the occurrences of BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It will also prevent the condition from worsening. One thing must be kept in mind that if you are having the symptoms, it is essential that you avoid driving or moving alone as you might lose control bringing in more complications.
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20370055
- Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17476-benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv
- WebMD. (2021). Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). https://www.webmd.com/brain/benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv
- American Family Physician. (2017). Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: Diagnosis and Treatment.https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/0815/p240.html