Amusement parks and carnivals are filled with countless rides that can send you whirling giddily through space. While taking a turn on one of these contraptions can be exciting and fun, being struck by the sensation that the world is spinning madly is far less enjoyable when it happens without any warning. For a person suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a simple movement of the head can prompt a disorienting bout of vertigo. Fortunately, talking with an audiologist about BPPV symptoms and treatment often leads to a positive resolution.
Exploring BPPV Symptoms and Treatment
Vertigo is the sensation that either you or your surroundings are spinning. One of the most common causes of vertigo, BPPV, is the result of troubles in the inner ear. While it can be unsettling and potentially hazardous because it increases a person’s risk of falling, the condition isn’t a cause for panic. A knowledgeable healthcare professional who recognizes the symptoms can conduct a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of BPPV and then recommend an effective treatment.
The Symptoms of BPPV
What signs can indicate that a person is dealing with BPPV? The list of common symptoms includes dizziness and vertigo. Sufferers may also experience balance issues that leave them feeling unsteady. In addition, nausea, vomiting, and abnormal rhythmic eye movements called nystagmus can occur. Various activities can trigger BPPV symptoms, but most involve a change in head position. Bouts of BPPV are normally short, with most incidences lasting less than a minute, and the problem tends to come and go.
The Causes of BPPV
An ear is like an iceberg; there is a great deal hidden beneath the surface. With BPPV, the problem originates in the inner ear, which actually contains several different chambers. Small calcium crystals called oticonia sometimes form in the inner ear, and they can wreak havoc if they stray into sensitive spaces like the inner ear’s fluid-filled semicircular canals. When oticonia travel into these areas, they cause alterations in the density of the fluids in the inner ear. As a result, you may experience dizziness or vertigo.
What prompts oticonia to venture into places where they shouldn’t be? Sometimes, there is no clear precipitating event. However, a common culprit is a blow to the head. Occasionally, ear surgery or damage to the inner ear is to blame.
The Diagnosis of BPPV
If you’re experiencing BPPV symptoms and treatment is on your mind, schedule an appointment so that your condition can be properly diagnosed. Audiologists and other healthcare professionals typically use the Dix-Hallpike maneuver to determine whether or not a patient suffers from BPPV. During the test, the doctor will guide you through a series of position changes while watching your eyes for telltale repetitive and uncontrolled eye movements.
The Treatment of BPPV
Instead of prescribing medications, health professionals typically recommend canalith repositioning to treat BPPV. While its name might sound intimidating, the procedure is a simple matter of moving your head. Your doctor will guide you through a sequence of maneuvers; with each position, you’ll wait for any abnormal rhythmic eye movements to halt. Then, you will hold the position for a bit longer before transitioning to the next position. Canalith repositioning encourages the oticonia to exit from the areas of the inner ear where they cause a disturbance and move to chambers where their presence isn’t a problem. In many cases, your audiologist will perform the canalith repositioning procedure in their office and teach you how to do the procedure at home as well.
In certain circumstances, your doctor may offer vestibular rehabilitation as well. A type of specialized physical therapy, vestibular rehabilitation uses a variety of exercises to decrease vertigo, dizziness, gaze instability, and balance difficulties in people with inner ear and balance disorders.
For some people, BPPV is a minor inconvenience. For others, it is a debilitating issue that interferes with their ability to complete everyday activities and significantly impacts their personal and professional lives.
If you’re struggling with episodes of vertigo or dizziness, take the first step toward wellness by initiating a discussion about BPPV symptoms and treatment with a trusted medical professional. Contact Apex Audiology today if you live in Colorado. Dr. William F. Herholtz can use the Dix-Hallpike maneuver to determine whether or not you have BPPV and then recommend treatment solutions to help you find relief. To get started, please call us at 719-569-5000 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!