MONDAY, July 23, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Videos posted on YouTube might come to the rescue of people suffering from a common cause of vertigo, a new study shows.
Vertigo is the sensation that everything around you is moving or spinning, even though you're stationary.
This study looked at benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), an inner ear disorder that is a common cause of this type of dizziness. It often goes untreated by doctors even though it's easily and quickly remedied with a simple technique called the Epley maneuver.
BPPV occurs when loose calcium carbonate crystals move into the sensing tubes of the inner ear. The maneuver uses gravity to move the calcium crystals out of the sensing tube and into another inner chamber of the ear, where they do not cause symptoms.
U.S. researchers found that accurate video demonstrations of the maneuver are readily available on YouTube, according to the study in the July 24 issue of the journal Neurology.
"It was good to see that the video with the most hits was the one developed by the American Academy of Neurology when it published its guideline recommending the use of the Epley maneuver in 2008 and then posted on YouTube by a lay person," study author Dr. Kevin Kerber, of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, said in a journal news release.
"But it was also good that the majority of the videos demonstrated the maneuver accurately," he added.
The researchers also found that some comments accompanying the videos show that health care providers are using the videos as a prescribed treatment for BPPV or to help patients learn the Epley maneuver.
"One shortcoming of the videos was that they did not include information on how to diagnose BPPV, and some of the comments indicate that people who do not have BPPV may be trying these maneuvers because of dizziness from other causes," Kerber said. "Despite this, we found it encouraging to think that YouTube could be used to disseminate information about this maneuver and educate more people about how to treat this disorder."
Another expert agreed that a physician's diagnosis is key.
"The Epley Maneuver is, indeed, an effective treatment for BPPV [and] a 'do-it-yourself' video may increase the number of patients treated, " said Dr. Ronald Kanner, chair of neurology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. and North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY.
But he added that, "for a procedure to be effective, the diagnosis needs to be made correctly and the treatment applied appropriately. While the authors helpfully describe what is likely to become a significant trend, we must exercise caution in self-diagnosis and self-treatment. Furthermore, patients may experience extreme dizziness, following the procedure and it should not be done without a watchful eye to protect the patient."
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.