A WEBSITE made by Southampton researchers has been shown to reduce dizziness in adults aged 50 and above.

The interactive site was developed by psychologists at Southampton University and uses a new programme called ‘balance retraining’.

Using using video demonstrations, instructions and personalised feedback and advice, the site showed patients had significantly lower levels of dizziness symptoms after three and six months than those accessing standard care from their GP.

After three months, 40 per cent of people using the site reported that they felt ‘much better’ or ‘completely well’ – twice as many as in the GP care group.

Researchers at the university say that dizziness affects nearly one in three people aged over 65 in the UK and is often caused by problems with the vestibular – or balance – organ in the inner ear.

Patients with ‘vestibular dizziness’, such as those examined in this study, can suffer severe symptoms, triggered by simple everyday movements like turning over in bed, or looking left and right to cross the road.

These symptoms are very disruptive – leading to falls, anxiety, depression and loss of independence.

The recommended treatment is a simple exercise-based therapy called vestibular rehabilitation, which involves nodding and shaking the head.

Previous research has shown that patients using this therapy are nearly three times more likely to reduce their dizziness than those who don’t.

But very few people who report dizziness to their doctor are referred for this type of treatment, so there is a real need to improve access.

Lucy Yardley, professor of health psychology at the University of Southampton, said: “Balance retraining has been designed to be very straightforward to use and provides individuals with information and instruction about techniques they can use to reduce their dizziness.

“The vestibular rehabilitation exercises are very quick and easy to carry out, and work by encouraging the body’s balance system to re-adjust to the movements that trigger dizziness symptoms.”

The balance retraining study included 296 patients with vestibular-related dizziness.

The patients were randomly assigned to either have immediate access to the website, or to continue with usual care from their GP.

Balance retraining is now available for the public to use free of charge and can be visited at: balance.lifeguidehealth.org.