Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you are spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is usually triggered by specific changes in the position of your head. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.
Although benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be a bothersome problem, it is rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. You can receive effective treatment for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo during a doctor's office visit.
Your doctor may do a series of tests to determine the cause of your dizziness. During a physical examination, your doctor will likely look for:
If the cause of your signs and symptoms is difficult to determine, your doctor may order additional testing, such as:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo may go away on its own. But, to help relieve BPPV sooner, your doctor or physical therapist may treat you with a series of movements known as the canalith repositioning procedure.
Performed in your doctor's office, the canalith repositioning procedure consists of several simple and slow maneuvers for positioning your head. The goal is to move particles from the fluid-filled semicircular canals of your inner ear into a tiny open area (vestibule) that houses otolith organs in your ear where these particles do not cause trouble.
Each position is held for about 30 seconds after any symptoms or abnormal eye movements stop. This procedure is usually effective after one or two treatments.
In very rare situations (1% or less) in which the canalith repositioning procedure is not effective, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure in which a plug is used to block the portion of your inner ear that is causing dizziness. The plug prevents the semicircular canal in your ear from being able to respond to particle movements or head movements in general.