Beyond airing videos of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and others that numb the mind, YouTube has the potential to spread useful and critical health information that is often ignored.
A study published today in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, has found that watching videos on YouTube may be a new way to show the treatment for a common cause of vertigo, which can go untreated by physicians.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an inner-ear disorder that is a common cause of dizziness. It can be treated easily and quickly with a simple technique known as the Epley manoeuvre, whereby the patient lies on his or her back and the therapist performs a sequential movement of the head into four positions.
But study author Dr Kevin Kerber of the University of Michigan Health System says: 'Often the manoeuvre isn't used and people are told to wait it out or given drugs.'
For the study, Kerber and colleagues searched YouTube for videos showing the manoeuvre and rated their accuracy.
Most of the videos demonstrated the manoeuvre accurately. Comments posted regarding the videos showed they were used by both health care providers and patients.
However, the videos lacked information on how to diagnose BPPV. Further, some comments indicate that people without BPPV may be trying the manoeuvre to treat dizziness from other causes, says Kerber.
The team is also working on projects to test the effectiveness of video interventions on patient outcomes.
In the meantime, check out these other YouTube channels for some useful health tips.
American Council on Exercise
youtube.com/user/ACEfitness/ Instructional videos for safe and effective workouts.
US Food and Drug Administration
Videos on everything medical.
What the Heck Are You Eating with Joy Bauer youtube.com/user/EverydayHealth
Myth-busting about everyday food.