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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Overview

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.

  • BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. It is usually triggered by specific changes in your head’s position. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.

  • Although BPPV can be bothersome, it’s rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for BPPV during a doctor’s office visit.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) may include:

  • Dizziness

  • A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving (vertigo)

  • A loss of balance or unsteadiness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

The signs and symptoms of BPPV can come and go and commonly last less than one minute. Episodes of BPPV can disappear for some time and then recur.

Activities that bring about the signs and symptoms of BPPV can vary from person to person, but are almost always brought on by a change in head position. Some people also feel out of balance when standing or walking.

Abnormal rhythmic eye movements usually accompany the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

When to see a doctor

Generally, see your doctor if you experience any recurrent, sudden, severe, or prolonged and unexplained dizziness or vertigo.

Seek emergency care

Although it’s uncommon for dizziness to signal a serious illness, see your doctor immediately if you experience dizziness or vertigo along with any of the following:

  • A new, different or severe headache

  • A fever

  • Double vision or loss of vision

  • Hearing loss

  • Trouble speaking

  • Leg or arm weakness

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Falling or difficulty walking

  • Numbness or tingling

The signs and symptoms listed above may signal a more serious problem.

Causes

  • Often, there’s no known cause for BPPV. This is called idiopathic BPPV.

  • When there is a known cause, BPPV is often associated with a minor to severe blow to your head. Less common causes of BPPV include disorders that damage your inner ear or, rarely, damage that occurs during ear surgery or long periods positioned on your back, such as in a dentist chair. BPPV also has been associated with migraines.

 

The ear’s role

  • Inside your ear is a tiny organ called the vestibular labyrinth. It includes three loop-shaped structures (semicircular canals) that contain fluid and fine, hairlike sensors that monitor your head’s rotation.

  • Other structures (otolith organs) in your ear monitor your head’s movements — up and down, right and left, back and forth — and your head’s position related to gravity. These otolith organs contain crystals that make you sensitive to gravity.

  • For many reasons, these crystals can become dislodged. When they become dislodged, they can move into one of the semicircular canals — especially while you’re lying down. This causes the semicircular canal to become sensitive to head position changes it would normally not respond to, which is what makes you feel dizzy.

Risk factors

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo occurs most often in people age 50 and older, but can occur at any age. BPPV is also more common in women than in men. A head injury or any other disorder of the balance organs of your ear may make you more susceptible to BPPV.

Complications

  • Although BPPV is uncomfortable, it rarely causes complications. The dizziness of BPPVcan make you unsteady, which may put you at greater risk of falling.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may do a series of tests to determine the cause of your dizziness. During a physical exam, your doctor will likely look for:

  • Signs and symptoms of dizziness that are prompted by eye or head movements and then decrease in less than one minute

  • Dizziness with specific eye movements that occur when you lie on your back with your head turned to one side and tipped slightly over the edge of the examination bed

  • Involuntary movements of your eyes from side to side

  • Inability to control your eye movements

If your doctor can’t find the cause of your signs and symptoms, he or she may order additional testing, such as:

  • Electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG). The purpose of these tests is to detect abnormal eye movement. ENG (which uses electrodes) or VNG (which uses small cameras) can help determine if dizziness is due to inner ear disease by measuring involuntary eye movements while your head is placed in different positions or your balance organs are stimulated with water or air.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your head and body. Your doctor can use these images to identify and diagnose a range of conditions. MRI may be performed to rule out other possible causes of vertigo.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you experience dizziness associated with BPPV, consider these tips:

  • Be aware of the possibility of losing your balance, which can lead to falling and serious injury.

  • Avoid movements, such as looking up, that bring on the symptoms.

  • Sit down immediately when you feel dizzy.

  • Use good lighting if you get up at night.

  • Walk with a cane for stability if you’re at risk of falling.

  • Work closely with your doctor to manage your symptoms effectively.

BPPV may recur even after successful therapy. Although there’s no cure, the condition can be managed with physical therapy and home treatments

Our expert providers are experienced and skilled at treating benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and are your source for expert treatment of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in Westminster and Denver Colorado. Not only are we the premier treatment for spine injuries and chiropractic in Westminster and Denver Colorado, but we also specialize in many other advanced treatment techniques such as shockwave, cold laser, graston technique, KT Taping, activator, instrument aided spinal alignments, drop table, toggle, in house rehab services, and on site digital xrays. We are your Premier destination for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treatment in Westminster Colorado and Denver Colorado Chiropractor.