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How does an Epley maneuver help treat vertigo?

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Quick Answer

The Epley maneuver helps treat vertigo by dislodging from the inner ear canals the calcium deposits that cause the symptoms of dizziness, explains WebMD. Once dislodged, the calcium deposits move to a different inner ear chamber where the body absorbs them.

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Full Answer

To perform the Epley maneuver, the patient sits up on an examination table with his head turned 45 degrees to the side that causes the vertigo, explains Johns Hopkins University. The patient then quickly lies down backwards with his head over the edge of the table. After approximately 90 seconds, the patient turns his head 90 degrees to the other side. After 30 seconds, the patient turns his head and body so that his head faces the ground at a 45-degree angle. After another 30 seconds, the patient sits upright. The patient may repeat the procedure several times until the vertigo symptoms improve.

Vertigo occurs when calcium crystals located on the utricle become dislodged and flow freely within the semicircular canals of the inner ear, which sense head rotation. As the patient moves his head, the calcium deposits continue to move, even when the patient stops moving his head. This results in a false sense of spinning, explains Johns Hopkins University.

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