Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of dizziness. It can have a very sudden onset and can be very shocking when it does occur, leading to strong feelings of anxiety. 

BPPV usually causes intense, brief episodes of vertigo associated with rolling over in bed, getting out of bed, movements of the head and is the most common cause of vertigo.

There are 3 components of the inner ear that make up the vestibular apparatus: the utricle, saccule and the semicircular canals. The utricle and saccule detect gravity and linear movements whilst the semicircular canals detect rotational movement. In BPPV, crystals that usually live in the utricle become dislodged and migrate to the semicircular canals (usually the posterior canal) causing a disruption in the rotational signals, causing vertigo.
Signs and symptoms of BPPV include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden, short episodes
  • Can only be induced by a change in position
  • Feeling faint or feinting
  • Nystagmus
  • Vertigo
  • Visual disturbances

BPPV is more common following a head trauma or due to degeneration/age. 

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