Have you ever felt that your body is off balance even while standing absolutely straight? Or do things around you seem to be moving even when they are not? Do you frequently suffer from dizziness and ringing in your ears without any accompanying movement?
If these episodes have become an everyday occurrence, you are most likely suffering from vertigo.
Rather than being a medical condition in itself, vertigo is a symptom of several other conditions. Vertigo is classified under two categories, depending upon the cause.
- Types of Vertigo
- Causes of Vertigo
- Symptoms of Vertigo
- Preventing Vertigo
- Home Treatments for Vertigo
- Method 1: Exercise
- Method 2: Vitamin D
- Method 3: Ginger
- Method 4: Magnesium
- Method 5: Acupressure
- Method 6: Hydrogen Peroxide
- Method 7: Stay Hydrated
- Tips for managing vertigo
Types of Vertigo
- Peripheral vertigo: This is the most common type of vertigo and is caused by a problem in the balance mechanism of the inner ear.
- Central vertigo: This is caused by problems in part of the brain, such as the cerebellum (located at the bottom of the brain) or the brain stem (the lower part of the brain that's connected to the spinal cord).
Causes of Vertigo
A number of causes can lead to peripheral or central vertigo. Listed below are a few factors that can cause each type of vertigo.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a mechanical problem in the inner ear that is triggered by certain head movements and leads to a false sense that you’re spinning or moving.
- Labyrinthitis, an infection in the inner ear that causes the labyrinth to send information to the brain that is different from the information sent by the unaffected ear. These conflicting signals lead to dizziness and vertigo.
- Vestibular neuronitis, also known as vestibular neuritis, which is a condition of the inner ear that causes inflammation of the nerve connecting the labyrinth to the brain.
- Meniere's disease, a disorder of the inner ear.
- Medication, causing vertigo as a side effect.
- Multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the central nervous system.
- Acoustic neuroma, a tumor that grows on the acoustic nerve that helps control hearing and balance.
- A brain tumor in the cerebellum, located at the bottom of the brain.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.
- Medication, causing vertigo as a side effect.
Symptoms of Vertigo
The common symptoms of vertigo include: (1)
- False sense of spinning or moving.
- Feelings of whirling, tilting or loss of balance.
- Feeling of being pulled to one direction.
A few other symptoms may also accompany vertigo:
- Involuntary eye movement or jerking eye, known as horizontal nystagmus.
- A headache.
- Ringing in the ears or hearing loss.
The symptoms can last a few minutes to a few hours or more and may be constant or intermittent.
Your options are very limited when it comes to preventing vertigo. However, you can take care of the following:
- Take precautions to prevent injuries from falls.
- If you are predisposed to strokes, you should control high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as stop smoking.
- If you have Meniere's disease, you should limit the amount of salt in your diet.
Home Treatments for Vertigo
While spells of vertigo come and go on their own, a handful of physical maneuvers and home remedies can be tried if the symptoms don’t go away.
Here are seven methods that you can try to get rid of vertigo with exercises and remedies.
Method 1: Exercise
Physical therapy is the first line of defense to get quick relief from the symptoms of BPPV. The inner ear canals contain tiny calcium "stones" that move around and help you keep your balance. However, BPPV can stop the stones from moving as they should. This sends a false message to your brain and affects your balance.
This can be overcome by performing certain maneuvers. The maneuvers consist of a series of head movements that will force the calcium crystal debris causing vertigo to slip out of the semicircular canal into an area of the inner ear where it will no longer cause symptoms. You can try all of the three maneuvers and see which one suits you best. (2)
# Epley Maneuver
- Sit down on your bed. Place a pillow behind you, so the pillow will be under your shoulders not your head when you lie down on your back.
- Tilt your head horizontally at 45 degrees toward the affected ear.
- Keeping your head tilted at 45 degrees, slowly lie down on your back. Hold this position for 1 to 2 minutes until the dizziness subsides. You may experience twitching in your eyes, which is normal and will subside with some time.
- Turn your head 90 degrees toward the opposite side and hold it for 30 seconds.
- Keeping your head in the same position, turn your head and body on its side toward the unaffected ear, so that you are now looking at the floor. Again, hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Slowly sit up, but remain seated on the bed for some time. You may experience some dizziness as you rise, but it should go away in a minute.
- This maneuver should give you immediate relief from vertigo. If you do not get complete relief in one go, repeat the sequence 3 times every day before going to bed until the symptoms go away.
# Half Somersault
- Start by sitting on your knees with your hands resting firmly on the ground. Tip your head straight up to look at the ceiling. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Put your head completely upside down, tucking it inward in a somersault position.
- If you are treating your right ear, tilt your head toward the right elbow. If treating the left ear, tilt your head to face the left elbow. At this point, you will feel the spinning. Wait until the spinning goes away completely, or you can count to 30.
- Keeping your head turned to a 45-degree angle, raise your head back to bring it parallel to your back.
- Keeping the head in the same position, slowly extend your head back to shoulder level. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds or until the spinning stops.
- Bring your head fully upright, so that now you are sitting back on your knees.
- If needed, repeat the sequence 3 times with an interval of 15 minutes between each attempt.
- Start by sitting on the bedside, with your legs dangling.
- Turn your head as far as you can to the left side. Holding this position, lay your head and upper torso down on your right side. Your legs should not move. Stay here for at least 30 seconds or until vertigo subsides.
- Sit up, turn your head back to the center position and wait 30 seconds.
- Repeat the sequence for the opposite side. Turn your head as far as you can to the right side, then lie down on your left side for 30 seconds.
- You can do this exercise in a set of 5 repetitions and repeat it 3 times a day, twice a week.
Method 2: Vitamin D
BPPV has been linked with osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile due to the deficiency of calcium and vitamin D. The chambers of the inner ear are filled with calcium crystals, and vitamin D receptors are present in the cells lining the inner ear. Hence, a deficiency in vitamin D can cause the crystals to break loose and lead to vertigo.
Increasing your intake of vitamin D3, which is easily absorbed by your body, can help strengthen your bones and help you to get rid of vertigo.
Single-Step Treatment: Increase your vitamin D level
- Take 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 every day for 1 month to improve the vitamin D level in your body. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of supplements.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, milk, orange juice, and cereal.
- Also, expose your body to morning sunlight every day for 30 minutes to enable your body to produce vitamin D.
Method 3: Ginger
Ginger is one of the best remedies to treat nausea and motion sickness. Hence, it can be used to alleviate vertigo-related nausea as well. Ginger also helps increase the blood circulation in the brain, thus further relieving the symptoms of central vertigo.
There are multiple ways to consume ginger. You can eat it raw, take capsules or prepare a cup of ginger tea or ginger ale. Here we’ll describe how to make ginger tea, but you can go ahead with the option that you are most comfortable with.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink a cup of ginger tea 3 or 4 times a day
- Pour 1 cup of water into a saucepan.
- Drop in the peeled and sliced ginger (1-inch piece).
- Heat the water on high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and strain out the ginger tea.
- Drink a cup of ginger tea to get relief within a few minutes. You can drink 3 or 4 cups every day until the symptoms subside.
If opting for ginger capsules, consume 6 capsules every night for 1 week, then reduce the quantity to 3 capsules. Continue taking ginger for 2 to 3 weeks to notice an improvement. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.
Method 4: Magnesium
Magnesium is needed to maintain the electrolyte balance within your body. A deficiency of magnesium will obstruct your brain from receiving messages from the sensory nerves. The brain may also interpret false messages of movement and gravity from the inner ear, even when there is no movement at all. This will lead to dizziness and loss of balance.
If a magnesium deficiency causes the vertigo, increasing your intake of the mineral will help you stay vertigo-free.
Single-Step Treatment: Increase your intake of magnesium
- You can take a 500-mg magnesium supplement once every day for 1 month. Consult your doctor before taking the supplement.
- You can also eat magnesium-rich foods, such as vegetables like dark leafy greens and avocados; fruits like bananas and dried apricots; nuts including almonds, walnuts, and cashews; legumes like dried peas and beans; soy products; and whole grains including brown rice and millet.
- Since magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin; you can also try making magnesium oil and apply it all over your body for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with water. You can do this daily.
Method 5: Acupressure
Acupressure is another safe approach to alleviate symptoms of vertigo quickly. A number of acupressure points can be tried to treat conditions like dizziness, anxiety, and nausea.
Try any of the following acupressure points to get rid of vertigo.
# Pericardium (P 6)
Pericardium 6, also known as P 6 or Inner Gate, is an effective acupressure point for vertigo and its associated symptoms like nausea, motion sickness, and headaches.
The point is located on the inner forearm, three finger-widths below the wrist and between the two tendons. Apply downward pressure between the two tendons. Massage and stimulate the area for 4 or 5 seconds to get relief from vertigo.
# Governing Vessel Point (GV 26)
This point is located two-thirds of the way above the upper lip, toward the nose.
Apply pressure on this point with your thumb for 2 to 3 minutes to get relief from vertigo. Repeat whenever the symptoms come back.
# Gall Bladder 20 and 21 (GB 20 and GB 21)
Also known as Wind Pool (GB 20) and Shoulder Well (GB 21), these two points are widely used in acupressure therapy to treat vertigo, dizziness and neck pain.
GB 20 is situated at the back of the neck, on either side below the skull, in the groove where the neck muscles meet the skull.
GB 21 is located on the backside of each shoulder, midway between the shoulder and the foundation of the neck.
Apply mild pressure on both points – first GB 20, followed by GB 21 – for 2 to 3 minutes to relieve the symptoms of vertigo. Repeat as often as needed.
Method 6: Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is another popular remedy used to get immediate relief from vertigo. It helps by loosening and repositioning the crystals lodged inside the inner ear canal, thus effectively reducing the vertigo symptoms.
Single-Step Treatment: Put 3% hydrogen peroxide in both ears
- Soak a cotton ball in 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
- Lie down on your side and squeeze the hydrogen peroxide out of the cotton ball into your ear canal.
- Wait for 5 minutes. You will hear a popping sound as the hydrogen peroxide works in the ear. Get up when the popping stops. Allow the excess liquid to drain out.
- Switch sides and follow the procedure with the other ear as well.
You will get immediate relief from the symptoms. However, don’t use this remedy too often, as it will dry out your ears.
Method 7: Stay Hydrated
Lack of water in your body can lead to dizziness, a prominent symptom of vertigo. It becomes essential to keep yourself hydrated to prevent vertigo and drink water as soon as possible when you feel dizzy.
Here are a few points you should keep in mind while trying to rehydrate yourself in order to get rid of vertigo.
- If you are already feeling dizzy, don’t gulp down too much water at one time, rather take the water in small sips.
- Continue drinking water in short intervals until your body feels hydrated.
- Make sure that you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day.
- Consume fruit juices and other fluids to maintain body fluids.
Tips for managing vertigo
- Sometimes you may feel dizzy due to lack of oxygen caused by improper breathing. Performing deep breathing exercises can help get rid of dizziness and anxiety.
- You can also try getting professional acupuncture therapy for treating vertigo.
- Performing specific yoga poses, such as Shanmukhi Mudra, Salamba Sirsasana and Shavasana, can relieve the symptoms of vertigo.
- Address ongoing congestion, immune system weakness, coughs and colds to prevent recurrences of vertigo.
- Avoid substances that affect the circulation to your brain such as caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
1. Vertigo. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vertigo/. Accessed January 3, 2019.
2. Home Epley Maneuver. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/other/home_epley_maneuver_135,405.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Vertigo
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