Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) typically causes brief, intense episodes of dizziness associated with moving the head, usually when rolling in bed or getting up in the morning. Some individuals might also feel nauseous between the episodes of vertigo.

It is important to note that vertigo is a feeling of turning around while standing still. It is described as a sensation of being still in a spinning room. The condition usually comes and goes for no evident reason. If the individual experiences episodes of vertigo for a few weeks, it is followed by periods without any symptoms at all. In most instances, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo affects only one ear.

Indications

Certain activities that trigger the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo vary from one individual to another, but moving out of bed or rolling over is responsible for triggering vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, lightheadedness or nausea.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
Certain activities that trigger the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo vary from one individual to another, but moving out of bed or rolling over is responsible for triggering vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, lightheadedness or nausea.

In some cases, dizziness is triggered when tipping the head back to look up. The symptoms are usually intermittent which ceases for several weeks or months at a time and return for a longer or shorter period.

What are the causes of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo?

It is important to note that the inner ear includes a succession of canals that are occupied by fluid. If the head is in motion, the wobbling of the fluid within these canals instructs the brain how distant, how quick and in what course the head is moving.

The condition is believed to be triggered by the small-sized calcium carbonate crystals inside the canals. Other causes include the following:

  • Head injuries
  • Damage by an inner ear disorder
  • Deterioration of the vestibular system in the inner ear due to increasing age

Management

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is usually managed using simple exercises. Nevertheless, if the symptoms become persistent and lead to distress, consulting a specialist might be required.

Brief use of motion sickness medication is oftentimes beneficial in controlling the nausea linked with the condition. Other effective treatments include positional maneuvers and exercises.

The condition often settles over time but it is vital to seek treatment during the initial phases to prevent injury or falls. In severe cases, surgery might be needed to block the affected canal.

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