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What is Vertigo?

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Vertigo is the sudden sensation that you are spinning or the environment around you is spinning.  Although feeling dizzy or unsteady is often associated with symptoms of vertigo, it is not the same as true vertigo.

Causes of BPPV

A specific cause of BPPV can be difficult to establish; however, BPPV is most commonly associated with a blow to the head, diseases that affect the inner ear, infection, or prolonged lying on the back. BPPV can occur when tiny crystals, called otoconia, within the inner ear are dislodged and pushed into one of the semicircular canals. This results in dizziness since the semicircular canal becomes sensitive to head position changes that it would normally not respond to.

Signs and Symptoms of True BPPV

Symptoms of BPPV can be triggered by specific changes in the position of your head, such as lying down, turning over, sitting up in bed, or even simply looking up or down. The signs and symptoms of BPPV usually last less than one minute and can recur periodically.

  • Dizziness
  • A sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving
  • Lightheadedness
  • Unsteadiness/loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Because episodes of BPPV can disappear for some time and recur unexpectedly, you are putting yourself at potential risk of falling and incurring fall-related injuries by not treating the BPPV as soon as it is diagnosed. Make sure to consult with your physician if any of the symptoms listed above recur or if you suspect BPPV after the first onset of symptoms.

Can BPPV Be Treated?

A BPPV trained physical therapist, physician, or audiologist may treat you with the canalith repositioning maneuver. This series of movements uses gravity to draw displaced otoconia (crystals) from the affected semicircular canal to the vestibule where they may be absorbed.

At Golden Gate Physical Therapy we care about our patients’ total best interests. We don’t merely treat symptoms and separate parts of the body, we look at the entire neuromusculoskeletal system with a whole-body perspective that supports the overall health and well-being of everyone we treat.