What is Benign Paroxsymal Positional Vertigo or BPPV?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV for short is one of the most common causes of dizziness and vertigo. It can occur at all ages however is more common in the middle aged or elderly. 

What does BPPV stand for? 

Benign- Although the symptoms can be very distressing the cause is not concerning for your health. 

Paroxysmal- means the dizziness comes in short bursts. 

Positional- this means the dizziness only occurs when you are in certain positions. 

Vertigo- is the medical term for the spinning sensation that is often felt.

What are the symptoms of BPPV?

The symptoms are described as an intense short burst of dizziness or vertigo (spinning sensation) that are related to head position. Following an episode of dizziness patients often report feeling sick or unsteady for a few hours. It is very common for symptoms to occur when lying down in bed, rolling in bed, looking up or turning your head. 

What causes BPPV? 

BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals (known as otoconia) have become loose within the part of your ear responsible for your balance. This can happen following a head injury, an inner ear infection or with age. When these crystals are loose, they can fall and become stuck in one or more of 3 semi-circular canals within your inner ear. These semi-circular canals are responsible for sensing rotational movements of your head. Therefore when you put your head into certain positions the crystals move within the semi-circular canal resulting in your brain thinking your head is moving when you are not. Resulting in the sensation of dizziness.

How is BPPV diagnosed and treated? 

Diagnosing BPPV is based on the history reported as well as the results of the Dix-Hallpike test. This involves moving from sitting to lying down with your head turned to either the left or right. Sometimes alternative testing techniques may be required depending on mobility or variation in symptoms. If the result of these tests indicate BPPV then a particle repositioning manoeuvre can be completed to help alleviate the symptoms. For the majority of patients the dizziness can stop after a single treatment although it is not uncommon for multiple manoeuvres to be needed to fully treat the BPPV, particularly if the BPPV is present in both ears.

How can we help? 

If you feel that you have the symptoms of BPPV please contact us to arrange a balance assessment. If BPPV is present a repositioning manoeuvre will be completed and an individual management plan issued to help alleviate your symptoms.