Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a very common cause of vertigo, or head spinning, caused by loose particles of calcium in the inner ear. The vertigo
is brief, disturbing, and brought on by a change in head position. It is abrupt, intense, and sometimes violent, and is occasionally accompanied by nausea. It lasts for a few seconds, but the after-effect can be longer.
The typical attack is brought on by lying back quickly with your head turned to one side. It can also be brought on by bending, stooping, turning in bed, reaching for the top shelf, or working under a car. It does not occur while stationary.
BPPV can be treated effectively in most cases. Many other causes for vertigo exist, however, and a neurotologist specialized in balance disorders can usually make the proper diagnosis and prescribe an effective treatment.
Causes of BPPV
BPPV is caused by loose particles of calcium in the inner ear. The calcium particles are microscopic crystals that are normally attached to one of the balance organs in the inner ear. In BPPV, these particles drift into one of the balance canals, where they don't belong. Tilting the head quickly causes the particles to move, stimulating the nerve receptors in that balance canal and creating the false sensation of movement (vertigo).
The condition usually comes about for no known reason. Occasionally it can be caused by a head injury or an ear infection. BPPV should be differentiated by other causes of vertigo that may not be as easy to treat.
We can help
U.S. News & World Report ranks The Mount Sinai Medical Center among the top 20 hospitals in the United States for the treatment of ear, nose, and throat disease. Our Hearing and Balance Center has considerable experience in treating BPPV. Please call our Hearing and Balance Center at 212-241-9410 to schedule an appointment.