Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness. It might give you a feeling like you are moving even when you are not, or your surroundings are moving while they are not. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is an inner-ear disorder and is a common cause of vertigo. To fully understand this condition, it is vital to understand its name. The term “benign” in benign paroxysmal positional vertigo means that the situation is not life-threatening. It is not life-threatening, and it can go away on its own.
Paroxysmal means that the dizzy feeling hits abruptly and then lasts for a short period. An episode typically lasts for only less than a minute. Positional vertigo means that the feeling is triggered by specific body movements, positions, or postures. Benign positional vertigo is common and can be treated by a doctor. Aside from feelings of dizziness, this condition can lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, and losing balance. While symptoms are not severe, they can be uncomfortable and dangerous. Losing one’s balance while standing or walking can make the person fall.
This article explores facts about benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
1. A clump of “ear rocks typically causes BPPV.”
Ear rocks or otoconia are tiny crystals of calcium carbonate present inside your ears. Ear rocks can sometimes detach from their usual area and then move to other spots in your ear. These crystals can reach your ear canal, the part responsible for sensing your head’s rotation. Ear rocks can clump in the ear canal. The clump is heavier than other things in the ear, causing it to sink to your ear’s lowest part. When you move or change position, the clump will allow the inner ear’s fluid to slosh after you stopped moving. This condition makes you feel like you are moving, even when you are still.
2. BPPV has various triggers
Since BPPV is positional vertigo, it can be triggered by different body movements like bending over, moving your head quickly, tipping the head back, and rolling around in bed. If moving one of these ways makes you feel dizzy, you may have BPPV.
3. BPPV is more common among the elderly
The older people have a higher possibility of developing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Parts of the inner ear just naturally and inevitably deteriorate with age. BPPV usually occurs without warning. People below 50 years old who experience BPPV are commonly affected by a head injury. BPPV is also more common in women than in men, but there are no further studies to support this claim.
4. BPPV has other causes aside from ear rocks
Other than the clump of tiny particles, it also occurs for several reasons like high-intensity aerobics, same position of the head for an extended period, other inner ear disorders like Meniere’s disease, a specific kind of migraine, riding your bike on rough trails, and prolonged bed rest.
5. BPPV can be diagnosed through a physical exam and your symptoms
During a medical diagnosis, your doctor will let you talk about your symptoms and overall health status. Patients need to lie on your back as part of the routine to check your eye movement control. Your doctor will also request you to move your head and eyes towards specific directions to determine when and how long your symptoms usually occur. If necessary, your doctor can include other tests like MRI to check whether a more severe condition causes your dizziness.
6. BPPV is treated through the Epley maneuver
Doctors commonly rely on the Epley maneuver for treating benign positional vertigo. Epley maneuver is an exercise, a particular way of moving the head and body. This treatment aims to get the ear rocks to a different part of your ear to avoid causing symptoms. Epley maneuver is only fifteen minutes long per session, but you need to rest in the clinic for around ten minutes before sending you home. It ensures that you will not have vertigo episodes as your ear rocks settle in their new position. Most people with BPPV feel better after the Epley maneuver. In case your vertigo does not get better with this treatment, your doctor may check for other possible causes that trigger vertigo.