Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
What is Benign Positional Vertigo (bppv)
The most common cause of vertigo and dizziness is BPPV otherwise known as the mouthful that is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Vertigo causes a strong sensation that the surroundings, or the person themselves are moving when in fact they are standing completely still. Bppv causes vertigo to occur when your head is quickly moved or held in certain positions.
It is important to understand that there are three parts to the human ear.
The labyrinth of the inner ear contains fluid which is important to the cochlea. When the head is moved the fluid causes the bending of little hairs inside the semicircular canals which then sends vital positional information to our brain. In BPPV, tiny particles (calcium rocks) break away and enter the semicircular canals of the inner ear and disturb this process. Here the particles bang and bump around the canals upsetting the sensory signals producing the spinning vertigo effect.
Benign positional vertigo can suddenly appear. The spinning tends to last less than one minute or even just a few seconds. Involuntary movements of the eyes called nystagmus can occur during the attack and be noticeable afterwards, your GP may notice this whilst performing an in office Hallpike maneuver.
Typically certain actions involving head motion begins the experience such as:
I know of family members who have had quick spins whilst drying their hair or upon looking up after looking down for long periods of time. I personally have experienced spinning vertigo on four occasions, each time as a result of rolling over in bed. I happened to have my first vertigo attack when I was 19 upon waking. The spinning lasted 10 sec or so, I felt very sick but it quickly passed except for a strange detached feeling that would come over me every so often for about six weeks after. There was no lasting balance or visual issues like I suffer from today and it eventually cleared up on it's own. I never visited the doctor back then which was stupid ( I really should have). I had no clue to what had happened to me. Looking back it seems like a classic case of bppv but who knows?
Benign Positional Vertigo can come and go of its own accord. You may be symptom free for a long period of time before your vertigo rears it's ugly head again. Bppv will typically resolve on it's own within a few weeks, although you may feel a little off for a few months. Unfortunately in some cases, it may last longer. Benign positional vertigo tends to effect the female population in the over 50s category mostly. That being said, it can actually strike any person of any age, young or old, man or woman.
Treatment called canalith repositioning is very effective for curing the vertigo associated with bppv. In some cases the vertigo is gone by the time the patient has left the doctors office.
The main techniques are:
There are also exercises that you can do at home, called Brandt Daroff exercises. They involve you moving your body in a particular manner from a sitting position to a specific lying position. It is thought that Brandt Daroff exercises should be completed several times a day until you have at least two days without any symptoms. Your doctor or a physiotherapist will show you how to perform these if need be. If the dizziness continues then vestibular rehabilitation (physical therapy) may help speed up recovery.
This website is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. I can not promise that information on this website is up to date or free from error. The Exercises mentioned here should only be attempted once you have spoken to your doctor and have his/her approval and recommendation as they can worsen dizziness.