What is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a common inner ear problem that causes short episodes of sudden vertigo, or the sensation that the room is spinning. Some people also have symptoms of lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting that occur as well. BPPV episodes are typically very short, lasting only seconds to a few minutes.

Symptoms of BPPV are triggered by sudden changes in movement, such as rolling over or sitting up in bed, bending the head forward to look down, or tipping the head backward to look up.

BPPV occurs due to changes within the inner ear balance organ. Deep within the inner ear, there are 3 small structures called semicircular canals. The semicircular canals help us detect motion and maintain balance. BPPV is caused by tiny calcium crystals moving out of place and becoming free floating in one of the semicircular canals. These crystals move around in the canal with changes in gravity and head position. This interferes with the signal sent from the inner ear to the brain, resulting in vertigo.

For some people, symptoms of BPPV resolve on their own. BPPV can also be treated with a procedure that guides the dislodged crystals back into place. In many cases, the symptoms resolve after these treatments. If you believe you may be suffering from BPPV, call our office at 904-399-0350 to schedule an evaluation.

Vertigo in the Headlines

File:Stephen Colbert at Montclair Film 2017 (1).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert announced recently that he has been diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). He reported that when he would stand up from a seated position, everything began to spin and subsequently he would fall or sit down. This particular type of vertigo is characterized by the sensation of either yourself or the world around you spinning, and lasting for a few seconds to a few minutes. It is typically brought on by head movements such as rising from a seated position, moving you head in a certain direction, or rolling over in bed.

Symptoms associated with BPPV are imbalance, nausea/vomiting, and visual changes such as objects seeming to jump or moving side to side. Possible causes can include head injury, ear surgery, migraine headaches, transient ischemic attacks or stroke, a growth inside the ear, or a virus within the ear.

BPPV can usually be corrected with special positioning treatments done in the office and exercises at home. However, it is important not to assume that all vertigo is BPPV and to make sure any causes aside from the inner ear are ruled out first. Contact your primary care physician if you begin to experience dizziness. Once cleared, they will then refer you to a hearing and balance specialist to help determine the cause of vertigo and develop the next steps to help correct it.