One of the most common causes of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, for short. Many people that have BPPV may feel like the world is spinning when they roll over in bed or, for example, when they tilt their head back to look at something on the top shelf of the pantry. Sometimes people also experience vertigo caused by BPPV in a dentist’s chair or when they are having their hair washed at the salon.
BPPV symptoms occur because of a small change in the anatomy of the inner ear that is responsible for balance. There are small calcium carbonate crystals in one section of the inner ear that helps the brain know where the head is in space. Occasionally some of the crystals dislodge and travel to a part of the inner ear where they do not belong. When that happens it causes the brain to perceive movement when there really is no movement occurring, resulting in vertigo.
BPPV can be caused by a physical blow to the head; some people, for example, have experienced BPPV after they have been in a car accident. BPPV is often described as “idiopathic,” which means the exact cause of the BPPV is unknown. On average, three out 10 people will spontaneously recover from BPPV symptoms.
Most people would prefer to treat the BPPV rather than wait for the possibility of spontaneous remission. The primary alternative to “wait-and-see” is to treat the BPPV through a series of guided maneuvers called canalith repositioning maneuvers. During treatment, the patient is asked to lie on a table while the audiologist, ear, nose & throat physician, or physical therapist moves the patient’s head and body. About seven out of 10 patients’ BPPV symptoms are resolved or greatly alleviated with only one treatment. However, some patients find they need multiple treatments.
East Valley Hearing Center is now offering canalith repositioning maneuvers at our office for those suffering with BPPV. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with BPPV, please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.