Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation when a person feels that they or the objects around them are moving. A person with vertigo may also experience dizziness, tilting, swaying or being pulled in one direction. These symptoms may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweating or difficulty walking. Vertigo can be caused by problems with the brain or the ear. BPPV episodes typically last no longer than a minute and can occur sporadically with long periods between episodes.
BPPV is caused by a mechanical problem in the inner ear, which is a part of the vestibular system that helps maintain balance. When calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in the utricle part of the inner ear become dislodged, they can migrate into the ear canals and clump together. This interferes with the fluid in the canals that helps sense head motion and false balance signals are sent to the brain.
The cause for the crystals to break loose of their normal positioning and migrate is unknown; however, trauma to the head may be a factor as well as inner ear disorders, migraines and ear surgery. Aging can also be a factor if the patient is older than 50. BPPV is uncomfortable and puts people at greater risk for injuries from falling.
Medical care is recommended for any unexplained dizziness or vertigo that persists for longer than a week. A doctor will likely look for signs and symptoms of dizziness prompted by eye or head movements, dizziness with specific eye movements when lying down, involuntary movements of the eyes and the inability to control eye movements. If these signs are difficult to determine, more tests may be needed such as electronystagmography or videonystagmography and MRI. Treatment most often includes the canalith repositioning procedure or Epley maneuvers.
In order to determine the appropriate treatment plan for you, your otolaryngologist and audiologist will need to evaluate and diagnose your symptoms. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.