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What is benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV)?

Benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder of the inner ear. The cause usually is unknown, but an upper respiratory tract infection or a minor blow to the head may be responsible. This type of vertigo occurs abruptly when you move your head up and down, or when you turn over in bed. Symptoms can be distressing but they fade in a few seconds.

Avoiding positions that bring this on may reduce its occurrence.

BPPV is the commonest form of vertigo, with attacks lasting 30 to 60 seconds, typically set off when rolling over in bed, moving the head to one side or reaching for something ("top-shelf vertigo"). Sufferers can usually describe specific head movements that trigger it. Although BPPV often occurs for no apparent reason, it can follow an ear infection, head or ear injury, and is thought to result from the dislodgement of normal crystalline structures in the ear's balance detectors. People with BPPV are often relieved to hear that it is due to an inner ear condition and does not signify some serious disorder such as a stroke or tumor.

Benign positional vertigo may come and go over a period of weeks or years. For this type, healthcare providers may try a canalith repositioning procedure. While lying on the back, the person extends the head over the end of a table. He or she then turns the head to one side, rolls over onto that side, and returns to a sitting position. This is an attempt to move tiny particles around inside the middle ear. Individuals should consult their healthcare provider before using this technique.

More information on vertigo

What is vertigo? - Vertigo is a type of dizziness or a sensation of movement when none is actually occurring. The precise definition of vertigo is an illusion of motion.
What causes vertigo? - Vertigo tends to have a specific cause. Vertigo can be caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and base of the brain.
What're the symptoms of vertigo? - Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) usually last a few seconds to a few minutes and are intermittent.
How is vertigo diagnosed? - The diagnosis of vertigo is made based on the description of what the person is feeling. Positional vertigo is diagnosed when moving the head causes the vertigo.
What's the treatment for vertigo? - Treatment of vertigo depends on the diagnosis. A complete medical evaluation is recommended for anyone with vertigo.
What's benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV)? - Benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder of the inner ear. BPPV is the commonest form of vertigo.
What is dizziness? - Dizziness is a term often used to describe different symptoms. It can be a feeling of being unsteady or woozy.
What types of dizziness are there? - Types of dizziness include vertigo, dysequilibrium, labyrinthitis, eniere's disease, light-headedness.
What causes dizziness? - There are many causes of dizziness. Dizziness can be caused by tiredness, stress, fever, low blood sugar, anemia, head injury, heart or circulation problems.
What're the symptoms of dizziness? - Dizziness is a common symptom of balance disorders. Visual symptoms include poor depth perception, blurred or double vision, glare.
How is dizziness diagnosed? - Diagnosing the cause of dizziness starts with a medical history and physical exam. This may be all that is needed to figure out the cause.
What's the treatment for dizziness? - The treatment for dizziness will depend on the cause of dizziness. Homeopathic therapies can work very effectively for dizziness.
How to prevent dizziness? - Most people learn through experience that certain activities will make them dizzy and they learn to avoid them.

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