Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a condition characterised by episodes of sudden and severe vertigo (dizziness) when your head is moved around.  Common triggers of your vertigo or dizziness include rolling over in bed, getting out of bed, and lifting your head to look up.  

What are the symptoms of BPPV?

  • Sudden episodes of violent vertigo.
  • Dizziness and/or nausea. 
  • Movements of your head trigger the vertigo (can be >30seconds)
  • Your eyes may drift and flick uncontrollably (nystagmus).

What causes BPPV?

The inner ear is home to the vestibular system, which monitors the head’s position and movement in space and relays this information to the brain. When information from this system is incorrect and conflicts with information from other sensory systems it can cause feelings of vertigo and nausea.

The semicircular canals within the vestibular system respond to movements of the head. The 3 canals are arranged at approximately right angles to each other, and are filled with fluid. When head movement occurs, the fluid causes the sensory hairs in the semicircular canals to bend and send off nerve impulses which give the person the sensation of movement.

The cause of BPPV is related to the presence of abnormal debris within the semicircular canals. The debris is usually small crystals which have dislodged from another part of the inner ear. This debris causes abnormal stimulation of the sensory hair cells in the semicircular canal and leads to the sensations of dizziness and vertigo experienced in BPPV

What causes the debris in the inner ear?

  • Head or ear injury
  • Ear surgery or ear infection
  • Degeneration of the inner ear
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Some types of minor strokes

In around half of BPPV cases, the cause can’t be found. This is known as idiopathic BPPV.

The below video provides a quick example of Vertigo treatment