A clearer head on dizziness: BPPV, estimated to affect around 50% of all people at some time in their lives, becoming progressively more common with age.
What is BPPV?
BENIGN: not life-threatening, although it can be intense and upsetting, PAROXYSMAL: comes in sudden, brief spells, POSITIONAL: triggered by certain head positions or movements, VERTIGO: a sensation that you’re spinning or the world around you is spinning
BPPV causes short-lived episodes of vertigo or spinning, lasting less than a minute. Often called ‘top-shelf’ vertigo, as it can happen when you reach up to a high shelf and tip your head back to look up, but can also occur when you roll over in bed, get out of bed, or even when you turn your head quickly. It is important to know that BPPV will not give you constant dizziness that is unaffected by movement or changes in your position and it does not affect your hearing or cause you to faint.
Why does this happen? 👇
Tiny crystals of calcium carbonate within the inner ear break loose from their normal position in the balance organ and collect as debris within another part. With head movements, these crystals move, sending false signals to the brain telling you that you are violently spinning, when all you may have done is move your head slightly.
Causes: in younger people
👉 following an injury to the inner ear
👉 following a previous infection in the inner ear
👉 sometimes related to migraine
– in people under the age of 50
👉 most commonly, following head injury
– in majority of people
👉 occurs for no apparent reason
Diagnosis is via a simple test called the Dix-Hallpike: involves lying back on a couch, moving your head in certain directions to make the crystals move. A positive test will trigger your vertigo symptoms.
Treatment: if it does not settle by itself after a few weeks or months,
a particle-repositioning manoeuvre, known as an Epley (guiding of the crystals back to their correct location in your inner ear) will be carried out. In 80% of cases, one Epley procedure is enough, though some people may need more than one manoeuvre. There is still a good chance that it will work even if repeated treatment is needed.
Do you recognise these signs and symptoms? If so, it may be worthwhile discussing your condition with a specialist vestibular physiotherapist. Please do call us at the clinic on 01634 817242 for further advice or help.