Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - a turn of the head is all it takes

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) normally presents with a sudden onset of rotational vertigo. Typically, benign positional vertigo occurs out of the blue, lasts only a few seconds and ends abruptly. Normally BPPV is triggered by turning in bed, getting up from a reclined position or bending over quickly. Fortunately, as the name indicates, benign positional vertigo is generally harmless.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - a turn of the head is all it takes

However, the fact remains that it is unpleasant for those affected. Employing specific repositioning maneuvers (e.g. Epley maneuvers), however, can help you address this problem!

How does benign paroxysmal positional vertigo develop?

Normally, benign positional vertigo is caused by small ear stones (otolith or statolith) coming loose from the macular organs sacculus and urticulus. The free-floating ear stones migrate into the so-called canals that are part of the balance organ. Upon arrival there, they trigger contradictory sensory stimuli with certain head movements and thus vertigo.

Even though the exact reason why otoliths come loose in cases of benign positional vertigo is still unknown, various possible causes are assumed: An inflammation of the balance organ in the inner ear could be responsible for the stones coming loose but also a previous sports injury or traffic accident might be the culprit. Another candidate could be advanced age or a head trauma.

What to do when suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo?

By examining involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), a physician can identify which canal is affected. The direction in which the eyes move is crucial. One treatment option is a set of specific head movements under the supervision of a therapist – so-called repositioning maneuvers – that return the ear stones to their natural position.

Since the ear stones can come loose again and travel back into the canal, a setback is possible at all times. By the same token, you can repeat a reposition maneuver to dispel the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo quickly.

Use the exercises to train your balance and try not to do any sudden or jerky movements should you suffer from that type of vertigo. In this way, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo will hardly impact your daily life at all.