Simple exercises are an easy and cost-effective treatment for persistent dizziness

A professor from the University of Southampton has called on doctors around the world to give patients with persistent dizziness a booklet of simple exercises, after new research has shown that it is a very cost effective treatment for common causes of the condition.

Lucy Yardley, who has been researching dizziness for many years, will urge GPs at the international WONCA conference today (5 July) to ensure that the booklet is translated so that patients of all nationalities can benefit.

Professor Yardley's urgent appeal comes after her study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and published in the , revealed that the exercises, such as turning your head right to left and back again or nodding your head up and down, led to reduced dizziness within a matter of weeks of starting, and the benefits lasted for at least a year.

Dizziness is a common condition, especially among older people, but it can affect any age. It can interfere with people's daily activities and cause stress. It also increases the risk of falling and fear of falling, which in turn, can result in substantial further limitation of activity, injury, and .

Research has shown that an exercise-based treatment known as "vestibular rehabilitation" or "balance " is the most effective means of treating dizziness related to inner ear problems (a very common cause of dizziness), however currently only about one in ten suitable patients are referred for this treatment.

During the study, which Professor Yardley will present at the WONCA conference today, more than 300 participants were randomly allocated to receive either routine medical care (commonly just reassurance and medication to suppress dizziness symptoms), booklet based vestibular rehabilitation only, or booklet based vestibular rehabilitation with telephone support from a healthcare professional.

The majority of patients within the study, an NIHR Research for Patient Benefit project, suffered from dizziness due to an inner ear problem, however there were many patients who had undiagnosed dizziness.

Nearly twice as many patients who had the booklet and said they felt much better or totally well at the end of the study, compared with those who had routine care. Even without any support, getting the booklet led to better recovery than routine care. Only 5 per cent of patients receiving the booklet with support reported worse symptoms at the end of the study, compared with 15 per cent of those receiving usual care.

Professor Yardley says: "Dizziness can be a frustrating and sometimes frightening condition. Many people are undiagnosed, have no treatment for it and just learn to live with it. This leads to a low quality of life and can have high healthcare costs. By being given something as a simple as a booklet by their GP, that contains these simple head, neck and eye exercises, many patients will see real benefits in just a few weeks. These easy to understand exercises, which can be carried out at home, have the potential to improve the quality of life for thousands of people."

The University of Southampton worked with the Ménière's Society UK during the study. The Society supplied the exercise booklets used in the study and has been giving them to health professionals and members of the public for seven years.

Natasha Harrington-Benton, UK Director of the Society, comments: " and balance disorders can be extremely debilitating and affect a person's quality of life. This study demonstrates the benefits of vestibular rehabilitation in helping people to manage the symptoms of their condition. We are pleased to be able to provide access to the exercise booklets for both and health professionals and, to-date, we have distributed over 8,000 copies."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CT scans for dizziness in the ER: Worth the cost?

Jan 26, 2012

Performing CT scans in the emergency department for patients experiencing dizziness may not be worth the expense – an important finding from Henry Ford Hospital researchers as hospitals across the country look for ways ...

Recommended for you

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

16 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

Jan 30, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.