Although you may not have heard of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), it is actually extremely common. In fact, by the time you are 70 years old, there is a 50% chance that it will be something you have to deal with.
So, what is it?
What is BPPV?
You may not be familiar with BPPV, but you will certainly have heard of vertigo. Vertigo is a problem associated with “heights,” an uncomfortable sensation that makes you feel off balance, giddy, and generally unstable. BPPV is not a condition in itself, but it is actually the number one cause that leads to the common issue known as vertigo.
BPPV triggers vertigo through a change in the position of the head or body and generally lasts only a few seconds. Although this does not sound like a big problem, considering the short time span of the sensation, the regularity with which this can happen to heavy sufferers can make an impact on their ability to do even the simplest thing such as standing up, for example.
Vertigo manifests itself in this way due to a fault within the ear. Our ears house the part of our system that deals with balance. The ear uses calcium carbonate crystals as a gravity sensor. If these crystals become dislodged or disturbed, it can cause temporary giddiness or unbalance.
How Does BPPV Come About?
BPPV does not tend to occur at random. In general, it presents itself as a knock on effect from some other condition. The most common, and trickiest to spot, causal conditions are vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis. Both of these are painless, so they might be the cause of a surprise bout of vertigo or nausea.
Other common, and more obvious, conditions leading to BPPV include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, a tendency for migraines, and minor head trauma.
How Is BPPV Treated?
In most cases, BPPV can be very easily treated. The most common treatment involves a very quick maneuver, which is virtually painless, and realigns the space within the ear. This allows the balance center to absorb the calcium crystals effectively once again, normally taking effect within a few days.
However, as simple as this is, the procedure does not offer permanent effects. It is a treatment, not a cure, so BPPV could very likely present itself again. It may be that you are one of the lucky ones, and you never suffer from the issue again, but most people do see the problem reoccur at some point. This is perfectly natural but might also be the result of other interfering conditions or medications.
Our BPPV Process
Over the last 22 years, we have treated over 3,000 patients for this condition. We are pleased to say that we have had great success in this area. Of the treated patients, 80% required just one treatment. 17% required two sessions, while just 3% needed three or more.
Our treatment is not “one-size-fits-all.” There are a number of repositioning tools and methods. Which one is best for you comes down to the severity of your problem, any pre-existing physical issues, and your medical history when it comes to nausea or motion sickness. There are also some medications available, should your doctor feel that your comfort and safety are at any significant risk.
For more information about our treatments and what we can do for you, visit our SERVICES PAGE.
Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified Audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas Audiology License. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.