So far, the main way of treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo has been to visit a doctor and have them conduct head movements.
Now, a new study reveals that an affordable, low-risk medication such as vitamin D and calcium supplements may be useful in preventing this prevalent, and commonly recurring, condition.
A shift in head position causes a sudden spinning feeling, which is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is among the most prevalent types of vertigo. The problem is treated by having a doctor conduct a sequence of head motions that displace particles in the ears that produce vertigo, but it tends to reoccur frequently. Approximately 86 percent of those who suffer from this type of vertigo report that it disrupts their everyday lives or causes them to miss days at work.
The research looked at 957 persons in Korea who had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and were successfully treated with head movements. The participants were divided into two groups: intervention and observation.
The vitamin D levels of the 445 persons in the intervention group were measured at the start of the trial. Supplements containing 400 international units of vitamin D and 500 milligrams of calcium were administered to 348 participants with vitamin D levels less than 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), while those with vitamin D levels equal to or more than 20 ng/mL were not given supplements.
The 512 individuals in the observation group had their vitamin D levels not measured and did not get supplements.
After an average of one year, those in the intervention group who took the supplements had a reduced recurrence rate for vertigo episodes than those in the observation group. The average recurrence rate for those taking supplements was 0.83 times per person-year, compared to 1.10 times per person-year for those in the observation group, representing a 24% drop in the annual recurrence rate.
Those who had low levels of vitamin D at the start of the study appeared to benefit more. Those who began with vitamin D levels less than 10 ng/mL experienced a 45 percent reduction in annual recurrence rate, while those who began with vitamin D levels between 10 and 20 ng/mL experienced only a 14 percent reduction. A total of 38% of those in the interventional group experienced another episode of vertigo, compared to 47% of those in the control group.
“Our results are exciting because so far, going to the doctor to have them perform head movements has been the main way we treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo,” said the author.
“Our study suggests an inexpensive, low-risk treatment like vitamin D and calcium tablets may be effective at preventing this common, and commonly recurring, disorder.”
A limitation of the study is that a high percentage of individuals did not complete the entire study, with more people in the supplement group dropping out than in the observation group.
Image Credit: GEtty