Non-pharmacological interventions for prophylaxis of vestibular migraine

Katie E Webster, Afrose Dor, Kevin Galbraith, Luma Haj Kassem, Natasha A Harrington-Benton, Owen Judd, Diego Kaski, Otto R Maarsingh, Samuel MacKeith, Jaydip Ray, Vincent A Van Vugt, Martin J Burton

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BACKGROUND: Vestibular migraine is a form of migraine where one of the main features is recurrent attacks of vertigo. These episodes are often associated with other features of migraine, including headache and sensitivity to light or sound. These unpredictable and severe attacks of vertigo can lead to a considerable reduction in quality of life. The condition is estimated to affect just under 1% of the population, although many people remain undiagnosed. A number of interventions have been used, or proposed to be used, as prophylaxis for this condition, to help reduce the frequency of the attacks. Many of these interventions include dietary, lifestyle or behavioural changes, rather than medication. OBJECTIVES: To assess the benefits and harms of non-pharmacological treatments used for prophylaxis of vestibular migraine.

SEARCH METHODS: The Cochrane ENT Information Specialist searched the Cochrane ENT Register; Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid Embase; Web of Science;; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the search was 23 September 2022.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs in adults with definite or probable vestibular migraine comparing dietary modifications, sleep improvement techniques, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal supplements, talking therapies, mind-body interventions or vestibular rehabilitation with either placebo or no treatment. We excluded studies with a cross-over design, unless data from the first phase of the study could be identified. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used standard Cochrane methods. Our primary outcomes were: 1) improvement in vertigo (assessed as a dichotomous outcome - improved or not improved), 2) change in vertigo (assessed as a continuous outcome, with a score on a numerical scale) and 3) serious adverse events. Our secondary outcomes were: 4) disease-specific health-related quality of life, 5) improvement in headache, 6) improvement in other migrainous symptoms and 7) other adverse effects. We considered outcomes reported at three time points: < 3 months, 3 to < 6 months, > 6 to 12 months. We used GRADE to assess the certainty of evidence for each outcome. MAIN RESULTS: We included three studies in this review with a total of 319 participants. Each study addressed a different comparison and these are outlined below. We did not identify any evidence for the remaining comparisons of interest in this review. Dietary interventions (probiotics) versus placebo We identified one study with 218 participants (85% female). The use of a probiotic supplement was compared to a placebo and participants were followed up for two years. Some data were reported on the change in vertigo frequency and severity over the duration of the study. However, there were no data regarding improvement of vertigo or serious adverse events. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) versus no intervention One study compared CBT to no treatment in 61 participants (72% female). Participants were followed up for eight weeks. Data were reported on the change in vertigo over the course of the study, but no information was reported on the proportion of people whose vertigo improved, or on the occurrence of serious adverse events. Vestibular rehabilitation versus no intervention The third study compared the use of vestibular rehabilitation to no treatment in a group of 40 participants (90% female) and participants were followed up for six months. Again, this study reported some data on change in the frequency of vertigo during the study, but no information on the proportion of participants who experienced an improvement in vertigo or the number who experienced serious adverse events. We are unable to draw meaningful conclusions from the numerical results of these studies, as the data for each comparison of interest come from single, small studies and the certainty of the evidence was low or very low. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is a paucity of evidence for non-pharmacological interventions that may be used for prophylaxis of vestibular migraine. Only a limited number of interventions have been assessed by comparing them to no intervention or a placebo treatment, and the evidence from these studies is all of low or very low certainty. We are therefore unsure whether any of these interventions may be effective at reducing the symptoms of vestibular migraine and we are also unsure whether they have the potential to cause harm.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD015321
Pages (from-to)CD015321
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2023


  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders/prevention & control
  • Vertigo

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