BPPV article

One of the most common causes of dizziness is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) which affects the motion sensors inside your inner ear causing vertigo.

Our patient’s often experience short episodes of dizziness (lasting less than 60 seconds) which are triggered when they move their head into different positions. Rolling over in bed is quite a common trigger, but really any activity involving a change of head position can cause symptoms.

Some people also experience nausea with the dizziness, but it’s not normally associated with headaches, hearing loss, altered mental ability, loss of consciousness or visual disturbances. So if you have any additional symptoms or your dizziness follows a different pattern, we’d recommend seeing your GP first.

What causes BPPV?

Your inner ear has three circular strutures (canals) filled with fluid which work a bit like a spirit level to sense motion and determine the position of your head.

Small crystals which are naturally present in your ear canals can become detached after an injury like whiplash, after an infection or as a result of aging. These crystals disturb the motion sensors in the ear canals, causing false signals and vertigo.

Anyone can develop BPPV but it’s more common in women and the number of cases increases every decade as we age.

How can we test for BPPV?

Whilst BPPV can have a huge impact on quality of life and can feel very disconcerting, it is actually quick and easy to diagnose and treat.

Your GP or an experienced physiotherapist will be able to tell whether you have BPPV by completing a Dix-Hallpike test. It’s non-invasive and very quick to perform.

The clinician will move you from a siting to a lying while moving your head into to a certain position. If BPPV is present, this will trigger your vertigo symptoms along with nystagmus (a rapid flickering of your eyes). These symptoms will resolve within 60 seconds.

BPPV does resolve slowly on its own but the recommended treatment (Epley Manouvere) only takes a few minutes and your symptoms are likely to be fully resolved in 2-3 sessions. It’s very quick and effective and actually quite a similar procedure to the Dix-Hallpike test, where the clinician makes  specific changes of your head position whilst you are lying down to move the crystals out of the ear canals.

If you suspect you are suffering from BPPV or have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch,

The Physiofit Team!