The Brandt-Daroff Exercises: Can They Really Treat Vertigo?

Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS on September 29, 2017Written by Ana Gotter on September 29, 2017

Overview

The Brandt-Daroff exercises are a series of movements that can help with certain types of vertigo. They’re often used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which makes you suddenly feel like you’re spinning. These periods of dizziness can vary in how severe they are and how often they happen.

BPPV happens when small calcium carbonate crystals formed in your ears’ otolith organs break free and move into the semicircular canals of your ears. This sends mixed signals to your brain about your body’s position, creating dizziness.

The Brandt-Daroff exercises can dislodge and break up these crystals, relieving symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness.

How to perform Brandt-Daroff exercises

To do the Brandt-Daroff exercises, follow these steps:

  1. Start by sitting down on the edge of a couch or a bed.
  2. Lie down onto your left side, turning your head to look up as you do so. Try to do both of these movements within one or two seconds. Keep your head looking up at a 45-degree angle for about 30 seconds.
  3. Sit up for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat these steps on your right side.
  5. Do this four more times, for a total of five repetitions on each side.
  6. Sit up. You may feel dizzy or light-headed, which is normal. Wait for it to pass before you stand up.

You can also follow the moves in the video below:

Try to do one set of the Brandt-Daroff exercises in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Each set, with its five repetitions, should take about 10 minutes. To get results, try to do this for 14 days after having an episode of vertigo.

Benefits and success rate for Brandt-Daroff exercises

A study on the effectiveness of the Brandt-Daroff exercises found that they worked for about 80 percent of the participants. About 30 percent had their symptoms eventually return. This makes the Brandt-Daroff exercises a good way to manage, but not always cure, vertigo symptoms.

Risks of Brandt-Daroff exercises

The Brandt-Daroff exercises can additional cause dizziness or lightheadedness, especially if you haven’t done them before. When you do them for the first time, have another person nearby if possible.

If your doctor’s done Epley or Semont maneuvers on you, wait at least two days before trying the Brandt-Daroff exercises.

How does it compare to other exercises?

The Epley and Semont techniques are two other exercises used to treat vertigo symptoms. While it’s safe to try the Brandt-Daroff exercises at home, your doctor needs to show you how to do the Epley and Semont maneuvers properly before you try them on your own. Your doctor may also recommend not doing the Epley maneuver at home because it can transfer crystals to your other ear, compress your arteries, and cause vomiting.

Many people find the Brandt-Daroff exercises much easier to perform at home than other similar exercises. They’re also safer for people with spine or back injuries in most cases.

The Epley and Semont maneuvers are slightly more effective than the Brandt-Daroff exercises for some people. They also usually take less time. If you’re interested in trying either of these techniques, make sure you talk to your doctor first.

The takeaway

The Brandt-Daroff exercises are a safe, effective way to ease vertigo symptoms on your own. If you can’t find relief from the Brandt-Daroff exercises, make an appointment with your doctor. They may be able to show you how to safely do other exercises at home or offer additional treatment options.

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