Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
BPPV is a balance disorder of inner ear. It happens when calcium crystals inside the ear become loose and begin collecting in the canal at the back of the inner ear. The organ in your inner ear that helps you keep your balance is made up of 3 semi-circular canals, a saccule and a utricle, all connected by inner ear fluid.
The utricle and saccule have sense receptors loaded with tiny crystals that help detect small movements of your head. If some of these crystals become loose, they will float freely in the inner ear fluid. When this happens, moving your head in certain positions will cause these crystals to shift and travel within the fluid of the semi-circular canal. This will irritate the balance organ inside your inner ear and will send false signals to your brain that will make you dizzy.
Many people with BPPV say that one symptom they have is a short spinning (vertigo) or falling sensation that happens when they sit up to get out of bed, roll over or lie back in bed, or bend forward to pick up something on the ground. Some people complain that they also feel nauseated afterwards.
- The vertigo usually lasts a few seconds to 1 minute.
- You may have several attacks of these symptoms daily.
- These attacks can happen for a few days or few weeks, but, in some cases, the attacks can last as long as a few months.
- Most of the time, the BPPV symptoms will go away within a few weeks without treatment.
There are a few reasons why crystals may become loose inside your inner ear including:
- If you have had a mild to moderate head injury.
- If you have had vestibular neuritis.
- If you have Meniere’s disease.
Your doctor will diagnose BPPV based on your symptoms and examination. Your doctor will also look for “nystagmus” or jumping of your eyes when doing positional manoeuvre tests. The most common manoeuvre will be the “Dix-Hallpike.”
“Particle repositioning manoeuvres” treat BPPV and can be done in your doctor’s office in about 15 minutes. Two common repositioning techniques used are the “Epley Manoeuvre” and the “Semont-Libratory Manoeuvre”.