I have written before about the episodes of vertigo I have been experiencing for about the past thirty years. I hate that feeling of falling into a vortex, spinning around and around, with that sinking feeling in my stomach. Yes, it will settle down after some minutes and I can be up and about and get something to eat or go to the bathroom. Usually, I can also do my shopping, go to church, etc., etc. But it is truly bothersome to know that if I lie on my left side that terrible dizzy feeling will overwhelm me again.

In the past, after a week or so, I’d be back to normal. This last time it started on New Year’s Eve and it’s still lurking there. I know if I lie on my left side I’ll be dizzy again. About a week ago coming out of morning mass I ran into an old friend, Mev, and we exchanged, “How’ve you beens?” It  seems Mev, too, has been plagued with vertigo. She promised to send me instructions for a series of maneuvers that are supposed to get the errant canalith in my inner ear back to a spot where it won’t bother me.  According to the literature,  calcium carbonate particles (70% of cases occur in older women) tend to break off the “gelatinous blanket” in the utricle and get into the semicircular canal where they stimulate the hairs in the canal with the message that the body is in motion.

Over ten years ago my neurologist had treated one of my bouts with vertigo by putting my body through a series of movements, after which I was supposed to sleep upright that night, and my vertigo ceased. This time around I had done some googling on my computer but had not come up with this particular treatment. It seems it is right there, in Wikipedia, and my friend Mev was kind enough to mail it to me.

From Wikipedia:

The Epley maneuver (or Epley’s exercises) is a maneuver used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). It is often performed by a doctor or a physical therapist, but can be performed by the patient at home. This maneuver was developed by Dr. John Epley and first described in 1980.

The procedure is as follows:

1. Sit upright.
2. Turn your head to the symptomatic side at a 45 degree angle, and lie on your back.
3. Remain up to 5 minutes in this position.
4. Turn your head 90 degrees to the other side.
5. Remain up to 5 minutes in this position.
6. Roll your body onto your side in the direction you are facing; now you are pointing your head nose down.
7. Remain up to 5 minutes in this position.
8. Go back to the sitting position and remain up to 30 seconds in this position.

The entire procedure should be repeated two more times, for a total of three times.

Youtube offers the following visual help, slightly different from the above instructions; there are also other videos at this site.  I enjoyed the comments after the videos, especially the ones saying, in effect, “This worked for me!”

It is said that medication is not helpful in cases of BPPV.  I know my neurologist did not prescribe any but the one time I went to the emergency room when I was awakened at night with acute dizziness they gave me an IV drip and meclizine (Antivert).  When the current episode began a month ago I took meclizine for the first two weeks because it was on hand and then stopped after reading that it was not helpful for this kind of dizziness.  I noticed no difference in my symptoms but have to say meclizine really helps me to sleep well.  I think the meclizine is more valuable for the nausea sometimes associated with vertigo than the dizziness.

At this point (a week after I started this post)  I have done the Epley maneuvers several times, improving my technique by watching the videos.  It did not work right away but I have presently been free of vertigo for four days!!