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Vertigo sufferers seek treatment on YouTube

People suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can find easy relief on YouTube. But they have to be choosy about which video they watch -- only 64 percent of the clips showing the Epley maneuver are accurate.

Though YouTube shouldn't exactly be your most trusted source of medical advice, in at least one case, videos on the site can help people manage a common form of vertigo without having to see a doctor, according to researchers from the American Academy of Neurology.

However, as is the case with pretty much any aggregator on the Internet (think Wikipedia), one should proceed with a healthy dose of caution, because just over half the videos are accurate -- which means, of course, that the others aren't.

Researchers say that 64 percent of YouTube videos showing the Epley maneuver are accurate. Screenshot by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore/CNET

The researchers who reviewed YouTube videos of the Epley maneuver, which can help treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, found that, fortunately, the most viewed video (and perhaps the most reliable) was produced by the Academy of Neurology itself, but that only 64 percent (21 out of 33 videos) are actually accurate. They published their findings in the journal Neurology.

The form of vertigo the Epley maneuver helps treat is a disorder thought to be caused by calcium carbonate crystals that have somehow loosened in the inner ear. The maneuver, devised by a Dr. John Epley more than 30 years ago, helps move the calcium crystals to another inner chamber of the ear, where they don't cause dizziness.

"This type of vertigo can be treated easily and quickly with a simple maneuver called the Epley maneuver, but too often the maneuver isn't used, and people are told to 'wait it out' or given drugs," study author Kevin Kerber of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor and a member of AAN said in a news release. "We found that accurate video demonstrations of the maneuver that health care providers and people with vertigo can use are readily available on YouTube."

Kerber still advises that YouTube users proceed with caution. Not all videos showed how to do the maneuver properly (unfortunately it's hard for a layperson to spot these, but users should rely on videos from reputable sources such as the AAN), and some of the comments indicated that people without this form of vertigo were trying the maneuver when they should instead be having some other form of dizziness diagnosed and treated.

Having endured a few episodes of vertigo myself, which feels like falling and spinning simultaneously and at least for me was downright scary for 30 seconds and induced nausea for days, being able to learn how to perform the Epley maneuver quickly, without waiting to see a care provider, is a no-brainer.

Check out the most-watched video below, which at the time of this writing has more than 1.1 million views: