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7th December, 20202 min read

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Dr Lauretta Ihonor
Last reviewed: 01/12/2020
Medically reviewed

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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an ear condition where making certain head movements make you feel like you or the environment around you is spinning – known as vertigo.

It’s thought that changes in the normal position of particles in your inner ear triggers BPPV, but for most people, there’s no clear reason why this change happens.

Sometimes BPPV can be caused by a head injury or medical condition, like migraines or an ear infection.

Vertigo isn’t the only symptom of BPPV. If you have the condition, you may feel lightheaded, sick and have trouble keeping your balance.

Do you need tests to diagnose benign paroxysmal positional vertigo?

Most people don’t need tests to diagnose BPPV. A doctor will usually suspect BPPV based on your symptoms. They may ask you to move your head in different ways to help spot the movements that trigger your symptoms.

How is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treated?

BPPV usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months, but there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your symptoms. For example, you can take care to get out of bed slowly and avoid doing tasks that involve looking upwards.

Because BPPV is caused by changes in the normal position of particles in the inner ear, a doctor may perform or teach you how to do a simple physical manoeuvre (Epley manoeuvre) to help move the particles back into place.

In some cases, they might refer you to a specialist.

References

  1. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice [Internet]. Bestpractice.bmj.com. 2020 [cited 3 December 2020]. Available here.
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