Benign Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation when a person feels that they or the objects around them are moving.

BPPV is caused by a mechanical problem in the inner ear. When calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in the utricle part of the inner ear become dislodged, they can migrate into the balance canals where they are not supposed to be. This interferes with the fluid in the canals that helps sense head motion, and false balance signals are sent to the brain.

The cause for the crystals to break loose and migrate is unknown; however, trauma to the head may be a factor as well as inner ear disorders, migraines and ear surgery. Aging can also be a factor if the patient is older than 50.

The most common symptom of BPPV is vertigo. It can be accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, balance problems, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. BPPV episodes typically last no longer than a minute and can occur sporadically with long periods between episodes.

Repositioning head maneuvers, also called canalith repositioning procedure (or Epley maneuver), are used to treat patients diagnosed with BPPV. This treatment is usually effective after one or two treatments. Canalith repositioning is ineffective in rare cases. Options for these patients include vestibular rehabilitation, home exercises, canal plugging surgery and medication.

Medical care is recommended for any unexplained dizziness or vertigo that persists for longer than a week. If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of BPPV, please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4320 to schedule an appointment.