Vertigo may sound like a sci-fi experience, and in some ways, it is. "Vertigo can be the sensation or hallucination of motion," Darius Kohan, MD, an otolaryngologist who specializes in vertigo at Northwell Health in New York City, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
In short, you either feel everything moving around you or you have the feeling that you're moving around, even though you're perfectly still.
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Having vertigo is tough to deal with. "A delusion of motion can be severe and debilitating, leading to nausea and vomiting," Dr. Kohan says.
What Causes Vertigo?
Exactly what's behind your symptoms will clue you into the home remedies for vertigo that you can use. When it comes to what triggers vertigo attacks, there are three main causes, Dr. Kohan says, including:
1. Vestibular Neuritis
Inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
2. BPPV (Benign Paraoxysmal Positional Vertigo)
Crystals inside the chambers of the inner ear that sense motion become dislodged and float around.
3. Meniere’s Disease
A disorder of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss, per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Symptoms are caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear. Meniere’s disease is commonly treated, at least in part, with medication.
So, how do you get rid of vertigo? There are a few natural remedies for dizziness and balance that can help you find relief.
1. Learn How to Do the Epley Maneuver
"The number one best treatment for all types of vertigo is vestibular therapy," Dr. Kohan says. (This is a subspecialty of physical therapy.)
Vestibular therapy includes vertigo exercises you can do at home, like the Epley maneuver. But you should see a specialist first (ask your doctor for a referral) before trying them.
"Vestibular therapy is covered by insurance, and it requires a few short 10- to 15-minute treatments," Dr. Kohan explains. First, see your primary care doctor, who can rule out other causes, like a bacterial infection in your ear.
How to Do the Epley Maneuver for Vertigo
The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes the steps involved with the Epley maneuver:
- Turn your head toward the side that causes vertigo.
- Quickly lay down on your back with your head in the same position just off the edge of the table. You will likely feel more intense vertigo symptoms at this point.
- Slowly move your head to the opposite side.
- Turn your body so that it is in line with your head. You will be lying on your side with your head and body facing to the side.
- Sit upright.
Doing something like the Epley maneuver for vertigo on your own for the first time can be challenging, and it's also likely that you'll feel more intense vertigo during the movement, Dr. Kohan says. Also, there's a chance you can make vertigo worse if you focus on the wrong side or don't know what ear canal has the problem. Finally, treatment is individualized, and the Epley isn't the only maneuver that can put crystals back into place. All this is to say: See a specialist before trying this at home.
Keep in mind that you may have a relapse of vertigo after vestibular therapy. “After the initial episode, 40 percent of patients have a relapse, as crystals can dislodge again easily,” Dr. Kohan says. Once it happens a second time, you can try the at-home vertigo exercises again, as recommended by your health care professional.
2. Have a Doctor Show You the Semont Maneuver
Like the Epley, the Semont maneuver is another neck exercise for vertigo that your practitioner can take you through.
According to the University of Michigan, this is what you can expect when your doctor or therapist performs the Semont maneuver:
- While you are seated, the doctor will turn your head so it's halfway between looking straight ahead and looking away from the side that causes the worst vertigo.
- Then, the doctor lowers you quickly to the side that causes the worst vertigo, positioning your head on the table so you're looking up at the ceiling. You'll stay in this position for 30 seconds.
- Next, the doctor quickly moves you to the other side of the table without stopping, so you're then looking down at the table. You'll stay in this position for 30 seconds.
- Finally, the doctor helps you sit up.
In past research in Otology & Neurotology on 128 people with BPPV, the Semont maneuver completely resolved symptoms in 85 percent of the treatment group compared to 14 percent in the control group.
Both the Epley and Semont maneuvers may improve or cure BPPV with one treatment, but the evidence is stronger for the Epley treatment, per the University of Michigan.
Again, these maneuvers can be a challenge to do on your own, and it can be difficult to tell which ear is causing vertigo, so you should work with a specialist before trying them at home.
3. Try the Brandt-Daroff Exercise
As part of your neck therapy for vertigo — also called vestibular rehabilitation — you might be instructed to perform Brandt-Daroff exercises at home, per the University of Michigan.
These exercises do not move the crystals that have become displaced in your ear. Instead, they help your brain acclimate to your dizziness, and this can decrease symptoms over time.
According to the University of Michigan, the Brandt-Daroff exercise goes like this:
- Sit in an upright position.
- Lie down on one side with your nose pointed up at about a 45-degree angle.
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds, or until the vertigo goes away (whichever is longer).
- Move back to a seated position, then repeat on the other side.
4. Find a Comfortable Position
One of the natural remedies for vertigo doesn't treat it but can help you feel more comfortable during bouts of dizziness. If your vertigo is caused by BPPV, then you'll likely notice that the symptoms are not as bad when you're facing one particular side. Try to keep your head propped up with pillows and find a position that makes you less dizzy, Dr. Kohan recommends.
Note that this remedy is only meant for temporary relief and is not a cure.
5. Do Balance Exercises
One of the home remedies for vertigo caused by vestibular neuronitis is exercises that strengthen your balance, Dr. Kohan says. "Just like having weak muscles, you can exercise the balance system and make it stronger," he says.
Your balance system is the interconnection between the information your brain receives from your eyes, muscles, joints and the inner ear, notes the Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA).
Many vestibular therapists encourage people with vertigo to practice yoga, Dr. Kohan notes, as the postures work your balance.
6. Wait It Out
When you're feeling dizzy, all you want to know is how to get rid of vertigo fast. For some people, therapy will help immensely. For many, though, the best home remedy for vertigo (when caused by BPPV) is to wait it out, because it will often subside on its own.
So, how long does vertigo last? "Within a few weeks, most patients feel much better even on their own," Dr. Kohan says.
That's because the crystals in your ear want to go back into position. So, they'll eventually make their way "home." Weeks, however, can feel like a long time if your vertigo is making you miserable.
7. Drink Fluids
There are no foods that have been proven to help with vertigo, but you may want to turn your attention to hydration, because you can become dizzy from being dehydrated, Dr. Kohan says. So aim to drink enough fluids.
"When you keep the rest of your body in good shape, you will recover more quickly," he says.
How much water should you drink? A good general guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces (about 9 cups).
What About Juice Recipes for Vertigo?
There is no juice that will cure vertigo. However, like water, juice can help you stay hydrated. Just be mindful of how much juice you're drinking, because it typically comes with a lot of sugar.
8. Limit Salt
If you have Meniere's disease, one of the common treatments is taking diuretics (water pills), but the NIDCD also recommends eating a diet low in salt.
So, when it comes to treating dizziness with food, avoid or limit the processed fare that's rich in salt, like deli meats, packaged snacks and fast food. Reducing the amount of fluid your body retains can help relieve pressure in the inner ear, the NIDCD explains.
9. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
In addition to limiting salt, the Mayo Clinic advises staying away from caffeine and alcohol, which can make dizziness worse.
If you do have these, make sure to do so in moderation, and note how they affect your symptoms.
10. Consider Cognitive Therapy
While 60 percent of people with Meniere's disease get better on their own or can effectively treat it, this disorder can take a toll on how you feel and how you live, per the NIDCD.
Cognitive therapy can reduce the anxiety and other negative feelings associated with the disease, which can play an important role in symptom management and help improve your quality of life.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who practices cognitive behavioral therapy.
What About Essential Oils for Vertigo?
There are no peer-reviewed studies that suggest essential oils can cure or help ease vertigo, and no other homeopathic remedies are supported by research.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis.”
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): “Meniere’s Disease”
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Epley maneuver.”
- Vestibular Disorders Association: “Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)”
- Otology & Neurotology: “Short-term efficacy of Semont maneuver for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a double-blind randomized trial.”
- Vestibular Disorders Association: “The Human Balance System.”
- Mayo Clinic: “Dizziness.”
- University of Michigan: "Epley and Semont Maneuvers for Vertigo"
- University of Michigan: "Brandt-Daroff Exercise for Vertigo"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.