Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition that causes severe vertigo (spinning sensation in the head or sensation of the room spinning) of a few seconds to minutes duration, and is exacerbated by head movements.

 

What causes BPPV?

The balance organ in the inner ear is called the labyrinth. It is made up of three fluid filled semi-circular canals that help regulate balance.  BPPV is caused when small crystals of calcium (otoliths) break away from their normal postion and float freely within these canals. There is often no obvious cause, but head trauma or inner ear infection can cause BPPV.

 

What are the symptoms?

Head movements (typically rolling over in bed) induces short lived (a few seconds to minutes) severe vertigo which resolves spontaneously.

 

How can it be treated?

BPPV is often self-limiting, which means that it often gets better on its own without treatment. If the problem persists, then your ENT doctor can perform an otolith repositioning manoevre called Epley’s manoevre which helps move the free-floating crystals back to their original position.