Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
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What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a problem with the inner ear. It causes you to feel dizzy for a short period or longer. It comes on suddenly. It is the most common form of vertigo. It is the easiest to treat.
What are the symptoms of BPPV?
You might feel like the room is spinning around in circles or that your surroundings are moving. This feeling is called “vertigo.” BPPV is associated with feelings of vertigo when you move a certain way (such as turning your head, standing up, rolling over in bed or lying down). Even moving your eyes quickly can trigger dizziness. You might also feel nauseous (sick to your stomach) at the same time. The nausea and dizziness go away in a few seconds. Sometimes it can last longer. BPPV is bothersome, but it’s rarely serious.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
What causes BPPV?
Your inner ear contains tiny calcium particles that help you keep your balance. Normally, these particles are distributed evenly in the inner ear’s 3 canals. When you move your head, the calcium particles stimulate nerve cells inside the canals. The nerve cells then send your brain a signal telling it which direction your head is moving.
Sometimes, the particles can break loose in one of the canals. When this happens, the nerve cells tell your brain that your head has moved more than it actually has. This incorrect signal results in vertigo.
BPPV is most often associated with aging. Other causes include a family history, an ear infection, or a head injury.
DIAGNOSIS & TESTS
How is BPPV diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may suspect BPPV if you feel dizzy when you move your head or body in certain ways. They will conduct a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. They may order tests to rule out other causes of your vertigo. These could include different types of tests to provide an image of your inner ear and head.
How is BPPV treated?
Your healthcare provider can show you some easy head movements to help move the particles out of the inner ear canals and into areas where they will not cause episodes of vertigo. Doing these movements can stop the symptoms and may keep the dizziness from coming back. Your healthcare provider may also give you medicine to treat the nausea and dizziness.
Living with BPPV
BPPV can be bothersome and uncomfortable. But the simple head maneuvers usually help the symptoms go away. It can come back at any time, but is easily treatable.