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Gail Linn, MA, CCC-A
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Potomac Audiology

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

One night I went to bed and put my right ear on the pillow and in a few seconds the room began to spin and then about a minute later it stopped. I said to myself, “I have BPPV.” Luckily, I was not afraid, because as an audiologist I have been treating this condition for many years. So what is this condition called BPPV? The best place to start is by defining each word.
Benign not life threatening
Paroxysmal lasting only a short time or brief
Positional change in body or head position
Vertigo spinning or dizzy feeling
So, we have a spinning or dizziness that is not life threatening that lasts for a brief period of time when one changes the position of the body or head. About 25% of the people that experience dizziness have BPPV.
You might ask how does this happen? The inner ear is a small fluid filled structure that houses both our hearing and balance. Inside the inner ear are small calcium deposits called otoconia or canalith. They can become dislodged and float into the semi-circular canals of our balance center. They can become dislodged due to head trauma, inflammation of the inner ear, fluid pressure changes and aging. When the otoconia move in the semi-circular canals, neural signals are sent to the brain, which cause dizziness.
The diagnosis of BPPV is relatively simple and is done by performing a series of positioning tests in the office. The treatment is simple as well. The Eply Maneuver or Canalith Repositioning Procedure simply rotates the head around over the end of a table causing the otoconia to go back to their correct location in the inner ear. Once back in their proper location, the dizziness is either greatly reduced or goes away completely.
To see a picture of how this is done, go to the Mayo Clinic website at http //www.mayoclinic.org/balance/bppv.html. Most people are amazed that such a simple procedure can cure such a big problem. For more information the Mayo Clinic web site gives a detailed description of both the diagnoses and treatment of BPPV.

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