Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, frequently referred to as BPPV, is one of the most common causes of vertigo – the sudden sensation that you or the room around you is spinning.
These brief periods of mild to intense spinning sensations are usually triggered by the sudden change in position of your head such as lying down, sitting up, or turning over in bed. Cases of vertigo caused by BPPV can be quite bothersome and can lead to nausea, loss of balance, or even falls in more serious instances.
What does “BPPV” mean?
BPPV stand for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which aptly described the condition.
Benign – not harmful, not life-threatening;
Paroxysmal – sudden recurrence or intensification of symptoms (vertigo);
Positional – triggered by certain positions or movements;
Vertigo – a false sense of spinning, the cardinal symptom of BPPV.
What’s causes BPPV and Vertigo?
Inside your ear lies a series of three loop-shaped tubes known as the semicircular canals. These tubes contain fluid and hair-like sensors that monitor the rotation of your head.
Other structures in your ears called otolith organs (found within the Utricle) help to monitor the movement of your head as well as your head’s position in relation to gravity. Up, down, right, left, forward, and backwards, little crystals inside these organs sense gravity and the relative movement of your head.
For a number of reasons, some of which are still unknown, these crystals can become dislodged and move into one of the semicircular canals of your ear.
This then causes that canal to become sensitive to specific changes in head positions that it would normally respond to. When provoked, a sensation of spinning, otherwise referred to a vertigo, is triggered.
What causes BPPV?
In many cases, it can be difficult to determine the specific cause of BPPV. When a cause can be determined, BPPV is most often associated with some degree of impact to the head. Less common causes of BPPV include surgery and other prolonged periods on your back such as during dental work.
Though both men and women can be affected by BPPV, women are slightly more likely to be affected.
What can be done?
A series of specific head movements executed by one of our trained physiotherapist can help drastically improve vertigo symptoms in most individuals with BPPV. Many studies have shown rates of resolution well into the 90% range within just a few appropriate treatments. Further exercises, known as vestibular rehabilitation, will be taught and practiced to help resolve any lingering symptoms as well as to prevent future recurrences.
If you have symptoms of BPPV such as intermittent vertigo or dizziness, contact the Bellefleur Physiotherapy office at 613-424-7852 to schedule an assessment with one of our skilled therapists so that they can help resolve your symptoms.