It is the weirdest feeling. You get dizzy bending forward or looking up to the ceiling, lying down, getting up in the morning, or even rolling over in bed. It’s like the room is spinning and it makes you feel sick.  If you experience this, you may be suffering from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

It is estimated that one in every five people will develop vertigo in their lifetime. The most common cause of vertigo is a condition in the inner ear known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. BPPV occurs when there is ‘debris’, or more specifically, a calcium carbonate crystal, which has been displaced within the inner ear. The presence of this displaced crystal within the inner ear can disturb one’s balance and equilibrium, and sense of motion.

These crystals are naturally occurring in the inner ear, attached to a specific structure, and not ‘free floating’. There are multiple causes for the crystals to be displaced but, more often than not, it tends to be spontaneous.  Other causes can include trauma (fall, hit to the head, whiplash), high dose antibiotics, age, and extreme changes in barometric pressure.

Most of my patients with BPPV report dizziness with certain positions. Most commonly, it is lying flat in bed, rolling over in bed, getting up in the morning, looking up to the ceiling, and bending forward.

Treatment for BPPV is very effective. It consists of ‘repositioning’ the crystal in the inner ear.  This is done through a series of head and body positions, which will move the crystals away from the sensitive hair cells within the inner ear.

Although BPPV accounts for a large percentage of vertigo, it is not the only cause. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist certified in vestibular rehabilitation if you have these symptoms, or think you may have BPPV.

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