Anyone who has experienced benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) would likely agree they would go to great lengths to keep it from happening again.
Although health experts agree it’s not usually a sign of anything serious, BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness, and is usually triggered by specific changes in head position. It might occur when you tip your head up or down, lie down, or turn over or sit up in bed. The sudden sensation that you, the room or the inside of your head are spinning can be disabling to say the least.
After the first episode, BPPV unfortunately tends to recur in many people. But taking two supplements – vitamin D and calcium – may reduce the chances of repeat episodes of vertigo for some, according to a study recently conducted at Seoul National University.
The study looked at about 1,000 Koreans who, after first being successfully treated for BPPV, were separated into two groups. The first group was simply observed for recurrence of the vertigo. Those in the second group whose blood levels of vitamin D measured below a certain level were asked to take 400 international units of supplemental vitamin D, along with 500 milligrams of calcium, twice daily for an average of one year.
After that time, those taking the supplements averaged about a 25% lower BPPV recurrence rate than those in the observation group. The greatest benefit was realized among people whose vitamin D levels were lowest at the beginning of the study; they experienced a 45% lower recurrence rate.
“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,” said Ji-Soo Kim, M.D., Ph.D, who led the research.
Initial treatment for BPPV generally includes a procedure called canalith repositioning, during which patients go through a series of head movements to shift “crystals” in the inner ears that cause the vertigo. Nearly 90% of people with this form of vertigo say it disrupts their daily life or causes them to miss work.