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Other Names:
Benign Positional Vertigo, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, BPPV
Positional Vertigo

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Definition

Positional vertigo is a condition characterized by a sudden sensation of spinning which may be triggered by head movement.

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Causes

  • Disturbance in the position of balance organs (labyrinth) in the inner ear.
  • Hereditary
  • Head injury in a motor vehicle accident
  • Blunt trauma (such as a blow) to the head
  • Repeated ear infection (viral infection) especially of the middle or inner ear.
  • Tumor of the inner ear

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Symptoms

  • A strong spinning sensation that may start suddenly.
  • The spinning or moving sensation that is provoked by head movement.
  • Inability to roll in bed or look up to the ceiling.
  • Visual perceptions causing discomfort especially while driving or walking.
  • Blurring of vision.
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Loss of balance
  • Vertigo accompanied with nausea, vomiting or headache
  • Abnormal eye movements

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Implications

A spinning sensation (vertigo) can be quite uncomfortable and distressing. It can interfere with your daily activities, work and your social life. Dizziness and loss of balance can increase your risk of falls and other serious accidents around the house. People with positional vertigo tend to get dehydrated and weak due to frequent bouts of vomiting. However, the good news is that this condition improves with time.

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What You Can Do

  • Medications like antihistamines, Anti-cholinergics and sedatives may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms.

  • Epley's maneuver or canalith repositioning is a procedure where the balance organs in the inner ears are repositioned. This is performed by your physician. This procedure consists of several simple maneuvers for positioning your head. The particles in the fluid-filled semicircular canals of your inner ear (labyrinth)can be repositioned back into it's original place. Each step of the maneuver is held for about 30 seconds for the particles to settle.

  • Some exercises can readjust your response to head movements.

  • Sit or lie down as soon as you start feeling dizzy.

  • Avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery until the symptoms subside completely.

  • Avoid sleeping on the side of your affected ear. Get out of bed slowly.

  • Avoid lying completely flat on your back.

  • Avoid head movements that might trigger the vertigo

  • Be careful when getting up from a lying back position or bending down to pick up something.

  • Use a mobility assistive device like a cane for stability and support.

  • Cut down on alcohol, smoking and caffeinated beverages.

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Positional Vertigo