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Best Treatment for Vertigo Is Easiest One

Guideline urges immediate therapy with simple series of head, body movements to clear ears

TUESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- The best treatment for vertigo is the easiest and quickest one, according to a new American Academy of Neurology guideline.

The guideline says many cases of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo -- an inner ear disorder that's a common cause of dizziness -- can be treated using a simple series of head and body movements performed by a doctor or therapist while the patient is seated on a bed or table.

There are several maneuvers that can be used to treat vertigo. Canalith repositioning (also called the Epley maneuver) is safe and effective for patients of all ages, according to the guideline. The Semont maneuver, a sequential maneuvering of the head into four positions, is possibly an effective treatment.

"The good news is that this type of vertigo is easily treated. Instead of telling patients to 'wait it out' or having them take drugs, we can perform a safe and quick treatment that is immediate and effective," guideline author Dr. Terry D. Fife, of the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Barrow Neurological Institute, said in a prepared statement.

It's believed that benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals that move in the sensing tubes of the inner ear. The maneuvers recommended in the guideline move the crystals out of the sensing tube and into another part of the ear, where they can be absorbed.

There is no need for special restrictions -- such as sleeping upright and wearing a cervical collar -- after a patient undergoes the recommended maneuvers, Fife and colleagues concluded.

They also looked at whether patients can do the maneuvers safely and effectively at home.

"Having patients treat themselves using home exercises seems to pose little risk, but there is not sufficient evidence that this is as effective as maneuvers done by a doctor or therapist," Fife said.

The new guideline is published in the May 27 issue of the journal Neurology.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about vertigo.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, May 26, 2008

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