You might have heard of a specific kind of balance issue or dizziness called BPPV – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo – so we thought it might be helpful to learn more about it by asking Clarity Hearing’s balance specialist, audiologist Dr. Dominique Olivarez, some of the questions our patients ask us.
1. What is BPPV Vertigo?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a balance disorder that makes it seem like everything is spinning when you move your head.
2. What Causes BPPV?
You have little crystals that belong in your inner ear. They sit in a jelly-like substance, and sometimes they can break loose from where they are supposed to stay.
Putting your head in a certain position can make them break loose, with the result that it feels like the room is spinning, but it’s really not. These little calcium carbonate crystals can move when different things happen to your head.
- Sometimes someone will have a head injury, and the crystals will come loose.
- We’ll see it when the head has been tilted back for an extended period of time, such as on a flight or during surgery.
- If someone has had a separate inner ear disorder, the crystals can come loose as a secondary event.
3. How Common is BPPV?
It’s more common in adults over fifty and then especially adults over seventy. Fifty percent of individuals over seventy will have BPPV at one point in their lives. That’s a lot.
4. What Are The Most Common Symptoms of BPPV?
Typically, someone will report the room spinning, or vertigo, from just looking up at the ceiling, turning over in bed, or bending over. A certain position or head position will trigger their room-spinning sensation.
The spinning usually lasts for a few seconds, up to a minute.
5. Are There Tests to Determine if This is What I Have?
Yes. The first test we do is really simple.
The patient sits on the table with their legs stretched out. I’ll ask them to turn their head to one side and lie straight back, keeping their eyes open. I’ll be supporting their head and looking for abnormal eye movements called nystagmus.
6. Is There a Treatment For BPPV? I’ve Heard of BPPV Maneuvers.
Yes, and it involves putting the head in different positions to slide the little crystals back into place where they belong. It’s very effective. Typically, after the first visit, patients will feel much better.
If they have it again, they can come back for a second visit. Typically, it doesn’t take more than two visits to stop the dizziness from happening.
When a patient comes into Clarity Hearing feeling dizzy and we find that it’s BPPV, I’m happy because I’m confident I can treat it there and then.
7. If I Think That I Have BPPV, What Should I Do?
We need to see you for testing, just to confirm that you do have BPPV. The best thing to do if you’re in the Houston area is schedule an appointment. We’ll test and diagnose the type of dizziness you have and if it’s BPPV, we’ll treat it during the appointment.
Contact us with any questions about your dizziness. We’re here to help you.