If you've ever suffered from vertigo, you know how disconcerting it can be. You know that you're on steady, stable ground, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Instead, it feels like you've been forced onto a carnival ride, and you can't get off. This debilitating sensation affects over seven million Americans every year.
The most common form of vertigo is called positional vertigo. It occurs when particles in the ear that register the effects of gravity get dislodged. They end up in the part of the ear that sense spinning, so your brain gets confused. This condition can lead to nausea, vomiting, and even dangerous falls, so it's more than just an unpleasant sensation.
After experiencing positional vertigo herself, Denver-based doctor Carol Foster wanted to find a solution to the problem. Since she's the director of the Balance Laboratory at the Colorado University School of Medicine, she had some ideas. One morning, when the condition attacked her yet again, she figured out the solution, which she calls the "Half Somersault Maneuver." Here's how it works:
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First, kneel down and tuck your head upside down as if you were going to do a somersault (but don't flip over – just stay in this position). Wait for the dizziness to subside. Once it does, raise your head up so that your neck forms a straight line with your back, which should remain parallel to the floor. Once again, wait for the dizziness to subside. Then sit down quickly. (For video demonstrations, search the internet for "Carol Foster vertigo maneuver" and you'll see several videos to guide you.)
This move helps the gravity-sensing particles shift back to where they belong. It's simple to do, but Dr. Foster wanted to make sure it would work for others, not just her. So she conducted a six-month study to see if it would help other vertigo sufferers as well. Sure enough, it did. In fact, the participants preferred the exercise over other maneuvers their doctors had recommended previously.
There aren't any side effects to this move, so if you suffer from vertigo or occasional dizziness, give it a try. Hopefully, it will help you get your balance back just like it did for Dr. Foster and her patients.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD