What Causes Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?
Do you have dizzy spells when you get up too fast or raise your head? Often, the spinning sensation comes from a condition called vertigo. There are several forms of vertigo, each with different severity and symptoms. The most common type is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, also known as BPPV.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can affect people of all ages, but it is usually common among people over 60. About half of the people in this age range may experience at least one episode of BPPV in their lifetime. BPPV also affects children in rare instances. In most cases, BPPV goes away independently. Although the condition may recur, those who experience it beforehand don't suffer another episode until several months or years later.
Most BPPV symptoms aren't severe. However, losing a sense of balance can be frightening and dangerous. The instability experienced may lead to accidental falls, which also cause fractures and injuries. Those with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo should exercise caution and seek professional concussion management for their recovery.
Let's learn about the different symptoms and causes of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Symptoms
A loss of balance is the most common benign paroxysmal positional vertigo symptom. In addition, you may experience other sensations. Spinning usually accompanies BPPV. It feels like you just got off a carnival ride where your body's sense of movement lingers beyond the event. Other BPPV symptoms include nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, and vision problems. You may experience unsteadiness, severely limiting your ability to walk, drive, or concentrate at work.
Typically, these symptoms only last for a few minutes after a sudden head movement. However, some people report recurring symptoms for months or even years. BPPV symptoms can be difficult to isolate from other medical conditions. You may experience dizzy spells due to BPPV, another illness, or a combination of both. You should seek professional consultation to assess if you have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo symptoms.
Some people may notice increased BPPV symptoms when lying down or sitting in bed. This discomfort often occurs when individuals change their head position, such as tilting to the side or the back. As you grow older, the BPPV symptoms worsen due to normal wear-and-tear of the inner ear structures. Additionally, BPPV could be a symptom of other ear conditions like vestibular neuritis, acoustic neuroma, and labyrinthitis.
Causes of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Your brain relies on a complex balancing system with three different sensory inputs:
Proprioceptive: These are specific sensors in your neck, spine, feet, muscles and joints. They communicate with your brain, orienting the body based on your position and motions.
Visual: Your eyes work to navigate the world. Additionally, they sense movement changes like slipping, sinking and other body adjustments.
Vestibular: Maintaining your equilibrium is done through the passageways of the inner ear. It detects changes in body movement, head movement, and the force of gravity. BPPV occurs when the vestibular system becomes impaired.
The utricle is a sensory organ inside your inner ear. It contains tiny calcium crystals called otoconia, which regulate the balance in your body. However, these crystals may loosen and become dislodged due to age, infection, or injury. Once this happens, they flow around like liquids in the inner ear structures. Eventually, the otoconia may drift to the semicircular canals in your ear.
Once you have these loose crystal deposits in the canals, they may clog the inner ear structure. The blockages send mixed messages to your brain, causing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. However, you will only feel the effects when your head position changes. Quick movements, head tilts, or bending over may trigger the BPPV condition. Once it starts, you can lose all sense of balance and be more susceptible to falls.
Why do the crystals dislodge? While there are no significant risk factors, you can develop BPPV if your family members have the same condition. You may also aggravate BPPV from head trauma, high-intensity exercise, or long-term effects of concussion. Likewise, it can activate when keeping your head in the same position for too long. Other causes include ear infections, inner ear diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, or migraines.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Treatment
Seek medical care if you experience constant dizziness, migraines, and the feeling of the room spinning. Your healthcare provider can diagnose BPPV by performing a physical examination. It usually starts with a series of questions about how you're feeling and what you're sensing. The expert will also check your medical history and request for symptoms you've experienced.
The most effective benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treatment is physical therapy exercise. The exercise routines manage the symptoms so that BPPV doesn't happen again. Their purpose is to move the otoconia out of the ear canals and back to the utricle where it belongs. When the otoconia particles have relocated in the right canals, they can be absorbed quickly and not cause uncomfortable symptoms.
BPPV exercises are often called canalith repositioning procedures. They involve a series of physical movements that last around 15 minutes. Typically, these ongoing exercises can treat the majority of BPPV cases. A professional chiropractor clinic can guide you through the proper BPPV exercises.
In addition, you may complement your treatment with some gentle home remedies. Here are the instructions for BPPV home exercises:
Step 1: Sit on a bed, bench, or table. You need to be on a flat surface that allows you to lie down, so a chair isn't a good idea. Turn your head 45 degrees towards the affected ear.
Step 2: Lie down quickly and turn your head toward the affected ear. Lie back with your head slightly over the edge of the table or bed. Hold this position for a minute until you feel the symptoms lessening.
Step 3: Without raising your head, turn it to the opposite position quickly. Your good ear should be parallel but slightly over the edge of the lying surface. Wait for a few minutes until you feel the symptoms stop or lessen.
Step 4: Roll on your side and continue turning your head another 90 degrees in the same direction. Now, your nose is facing the floor. Hold this position for one minute.
Step 5: With your chin tucked toward your shoulder, sit up in the direction your body is facing. Repeat the above steps regularly with appropriate moderation.