Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition
Vertigo is a feeling of movement or spinning when you are still. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) happens when the vertigo is caused by changes in the position of the head. This might include standing after bending down, turning the head in bed, or extending the neck to look up. People with BPPV can often identify which moves cause the most problems.

Causes
The inner ear contains tiny crystals. These crystals can sense movement and help you keep your balance. BPPV occurs because of a shift in location of these crystals or the clumping of these crystals. When this happens, your brain gets signals that you are moving when you are really not moving. This causes the feeling of movement.

Inner Ear

The clump of ear crystals can lead to BPPV.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

In some cases, the cause of BPPV is unknown. In others, it may be caused by:

  • Head injury
  • Viral infection
  • Disorders of the inner ear
  • Prolonged immobility of the head
  • Age-related changes to inner ear
Risk Factors
Increasing age increases your chances of getting BPPV.

Symptoms
Symptoms may include:

  • Sensation of spinning or rotation when you change head position that last less than one minute
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Ringing or buzzing sounds in the ear
  • Vision or hearing problems
Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Part of the process will be to eliminate other disorders. Your doctor may recommend tests to help determine the cause of vertigo symptoms. Tests may include:

  • Dix-Hallpike maneuver—moving your head or body in certain ways to test response
  • MRI
  • Electronystagmography (ENG)
Treatment
Many times BPPV can resolve on its own, usually within months of onset. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Vestibular Rehabilitation
Your doctor may suggest specific vestibular exercises. These exercises use a series of eye, head, and body movements to get the body used to moving without dizziness. You may work with a physical therapist to learn these.

Canalith Repositioning
This procedure is done in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will move your head in different positions to try to resettle the tiny crystals. The procedure is sometimes repeated and you may be taught how to do it at home.

Surgery
Some people with BPPV undergo surgery. During surgery, a piece of wax may be used to plug one area of your ear. This will prevent fluid in your inner ear from moving. Another type of surgery that may be done involves cutting the nerve from the inner ear.

Prevention
BPPV can't be prevented.




RESOURCES:
American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Academy of Audiology

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology

References:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/articles/200.html. Updated July 2010. Accessed April 25, 2013.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 14, 2013. Accessed April 25, 2013.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear_nose_and_throat_disorders/inner_ear_disorders/benign_paroxysmal_positional_vertigo.html. Updated November 2012. Accessed April 25, 2013.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Vestibular Disorders Association website. Available at: https://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorders/types-vestibular-disorders/benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo. Accessed April 25, 2013.

Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(4):369.

Last Reviewed April 2013



Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

 

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

 

To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.