The Eply Manoeuvre Explained
How to Cure Vertigo: The Eply Manoeuvre
All my life I suffered from motion sickness: buses, cars, boats, planes, standing on a bridge, watching running water - all would trigger intense dizziness and nausea, usually accompanied with vomiting. As I grew older, it got worse developing into severe vertigo. Standing up, bending down, bending my neck, looking up... would have me staggering and any journey became a nightmare. I thought it was something I had to grin and bear, something to cope with.
Until... Georgina's Miracle Cure. (Georgina being my Doctor.) That's what I called it for it seem like a real miracle to me. In fact it is called the Eply Manoeuvre and here I'm going to explain all about it.
Image: Picture by David Costello FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My history with motion sickness
I grew up in 1950s Scotland, before everyone had cars - a car was something you hired for the holidays - otherwise going anywhere meant a bus trip. For as long as I can remember mention "we're going on the bus" and I hid under the bed.
We lived in a small market town in Angus, nestled at the end of beautiful hilly glens. In fact they called our town (Kirriemuir,) the Gateway to the Glens. It was a nice place to grow up but any serious shopping for clothes and shoes meant a trip into the BIG city of Dundee - 30 miserable minutes on the bus via Glamis - 45 if you went via Forfar and the Murroes.
I can remember my father telling me not to be silly, I would be fine. My mother wasn't so sure, she also suffered from motion sickness. The first time I vomited so much the driver had to stop and clean the bus, shut my father up for good and he became the one who made sure we had a brown paper bag with us at all times. Day trips to the seaside would have my brother and sister sitting up front watching for the first glimpse of the sea and me with my head buried in said paper bag.
It never got any easier and even as a grown-up any form of travel would have me heaving - see these people who tell you there are stablizers on big ships to stop any of that? Don't believe them, I could get sick on a cruise liner on a mill pond.
I began to notice it wasn't just motion that caused it - sights could also trigger episodes. Sight and vision, anything like that would affect me as did watching moving water from riverbanks for example. The picture here shows you some of the beautiful architecture of Dundee ( a photo I took recently) - that too sparked a response.
Then any movement began to effect me too. Anything that shifted my head. Of course, now I understand it and I'll explain it to you...
What causes motion sickness and vertigo?
anatomy of the ear
Your body, if you don't already know it, is a complex structure with interconnections that affect you in different ways. In motion sickness for example, what is involved is your eyes, the balance system within the inner ear, the sensations your skin and joints feel and how all that information is interpreted by the brain. Motion sickness is generally stimulated by what you see ahead of you and the sensations your body feels when in motion. Dizziness is basically the sensation of movement when there is none.
It is all to do with the balance in your inner ear. The semi-circular canals in the ears can hold debris sometimes called crystals. In some people, when they move their head the crystals swirl around, much like a snow-globe causing that sensation of movement, of everything spinning until they settle again in a new position. I'm sure there are much more technical terms to describe it but this is what worked for me. When you understand that, you will understand why the Eply technique works.
Image credit courtesy of Wiki under common licence: By Chittka L, Brockmann [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
My experience of the Eply Manoeuvre
I went to visit my GP when the vertigo was particularly bad, expecting her to give me some anti-nausea tablets, that is all I had ever been given before.
To my surprise, her face lit up - "I have just the thing", she said, hunting in among some papers, "I've just finished my training for this and I've been dying to try it." It didn't exactly fill me with confidence but she seemed happy.
First she had to see if it was indeed these crystal jobbies that were causing the problem so she had be do several things. Sitting on her couch, I had to drop my head back sharply (she caught me) and describe which side felt worse, at the same time she was watching my eyes which gave away a typical flickering when the vertigo engaged. It is called nystagmus if you want to look it up. Once she decided it was the right ear affected more than the left, she carried out the technique.
It took only a few minutes and I thought I was going to die! All it involved was several movements of my head but it triggered the worse episode I had ever had. I managed to get home (somehow) and went straight to bed, I couldn't stand without vomiting and had to crawl on my hands and knees to the toilet.
I feel into an exhausted sleep around mid-night.
When I woke the following morning, it was gone! Just like that!
I would like to say it has never bothered me again but I have had some minor episodes since then, in particular when I am travelling, the last being after driving six hours. But I have my own DIY Eply manoeuvre that seems to work for me.
Georgina tells me I can have surgery to clear it all away but I think that is a bit drastic and I am happy to be rid of it for the most part.
What is the Eply technique?
I was going to describe it in detail and then I thought there might be some who would want to try it out for themselves and I have no way of knowing if that is safe so I'll just say...
the manoeuvre is a very simple techinque involving positioning of the head. You go sharply from sitting up to lying down on your back with your doctor or trained professional holding your head. She then turns it to the side most affected and holds the position for 30 seconds, turns your head to the opposite side for 30 seconds, then you turn onto that side holding the position for 30 seconds then you side up and tuck your head to your chest. That's it! A few minutes and it is done.
It is advisable not to drive afterwards - to rest for a good 12 hours or more and to see your GP for a follow up - it can be repeated if necessary.