Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Understanding benign paroxysmal positional vertigo so you can lead a happier, healthier, less-dizzy life!
What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a type of vertigo that most often occurs when you’re tilting your head, lying on your side, or lying on your back. It may occur in children and adults and is the most common form of vertigo, especially as we age, affecting 50% of all people by age 70.
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What does BPPV feel like?
Vertigo occurs quickly, without warning, and can create the feeling that the world is spinning out of control. As quickly as it occurs, it also goes away, often lasting for less than a minute. However, despite it lasting such a short time, it can make you feel nauseated, scared, and could even cause a fall due to your disorientation.
Why do we experience BPPV?
Your inner ear’s balance system helps control how your body perceives the movement of your head and that of gravity, functioning much like a gyroscope (a “a device consisting of a wheel or disk mounted so that it can spin rapidly about an axis which is itself free to alter in direction.”)
Your inner ear has a portion devoted to balance, consisting of crystals made of calcium carbonate. These crystals are called “octonia,” which literally means “ear stones.” It is not uncommon for these crystals to loosen, fall, and then dissolve inside your balance canals, usually within just a few hours. It is when they don’t dissolve that problems can occur. This extra weight caused by the undissolved crystals will stimulate nerve receptors in the inner ear when your head is in certain positions, causing your feelings of vertigo to occur.
Why wouldn’t these crystals be absorbed? There are a variety of reasons: low levels of vitamin D, which is associated with poor calcium absorption, side effects of certain medications, ear infection, trauma to the head, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, normal aging, and migraines.
How is it treated?
BPPV can be easily treated without surgery or medicine. There is a physical maneuvering treatment called Canalith Repositioning. Canalith Repositioning has been effectively used for the treatment of BPPV for the last 25 years. 95% of BPPV patients report success after just 3-4 treatments.
Will BPPV come back?
If you are someone who is prone to low levels of vitamin D, or are someone who experiences chronic medical conditions such as migraines, diabetes, or cardiovascular issues, BPPV can recur.
Stay in close communication with your primary healthcare provider about your experiences with BPPV, and be sure to check on your vitamin D levels. If you should experience the effects of BPPV after treatment, remember that treatment is simple, painless, and effective — without the need for surgery or medication!
Take our balance and dizziness quiz
Answer the following questions with a Yes or No, depending on your experience. If you answered yes to one or more questions on this quiz, we encourage you to consider a vestibular and equilibrium evaluation.
© American Institute of Balance, Inc.