Vertigo (BPPV)

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Woman suffering from vertigo dizziness nausea

Are Crystals Making Your Head Spin?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common cause of dizziness, accounting for ~20% of all cases of dizziness. BPPV can occur at any age. Typical symptoms of BPPV are a room spinning sensation lasting seconds to minutes, at times with associated nausea. BPPV is typically triggered by certain head movements from rolling over in bed, looking up in the shower when washing one’s hair, sitting back in a dentist office chair or bending down to tie a shoe.

What Causes BPPV?

Within the inner ear, small crystals line our balance center. These crystals help us to maintain our normal balance. Sometimes, these crystals can become dislodged and get trapped within a part of the inner ear that controls our balance. As we move our head in different directions, those dislodged crystals affect our balance giving us a room spinning sensation for several seconds to minutes. When our head movement stops, the crystals stop moving, and the dizziness gradually subsides.

How BergerHenry ENT Diagnoses and Treats BPPV

The best way to diagnose Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is to be evaluated by a BergerHenry BPPV doctor who will perform a thorough history and physical examination. An audiogram, or hearing test, is performed at the visit to ensure that no other inner ear abnormalities are contributing to the dizziness. If the evaluation leads to BPPV as the probable cause of the dizziness, specialized testing by a balance and vestibular rehab therapist is performed. Vestibular rehab is a form of physical therapy which is a gentle, non-invasive treatment for BPPV. Specifically, a test called the Dix-Hallpike is performed. During the test, the patient is placed in both a sitting up and then lying down position with the head moved in different positions to stimulate the dizzy symptoms. If the test is then found to be positive, an Epley Maneuver is performed to put the displaced crystals back in their original position, thereby treating the dizziness.