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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Balance disorder that results in sudden onset of dizziness, spinning, or vertigo when moving the head.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

About Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Vertigo can be described as a kind of dizziness that makes it feel like everything is spinning around or moving. People may have vertigo while standing, walking or lying down, and they usually feel lightheaded at the same time. Frequent vertigo attacks could be a sign of various medical conditions that are not always easy to diagnose. But vertigo is often simply caused by a non-serious condition called "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo" (BPPV).

Symptoms

If someone has BPPV they suddenly feel very dizzy when they stand up or move their head. Even turning over in bed can make them feel dizzy. This does not usually last longer than a minute. But vertigo can lead to nausea that sometimes lasts longer than the vertigo itself... Read more about Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Modifications of the Epley manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxsymal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused by rapid changes in head position. The person feels they or their surroundings are moving or rotating. Common causes appear to be head trauma or types of ear infection. BPPV can be caused by particles in the semicircular canal of the inner ear that continue to move when the head has stopped moving. This causes a sensation of ongoing movement that conflicts with other sensory information. The Epley manoeuvre has been shown to improve the symptoms of BPPV. This is a procedure that moves the head and body in four different movements and is designed to remove the particles (causing the underlying problem) from the semicircular canals in the inner ear. A range of modifications of the Epley manoeuvre are now used in clinical practice, including applying vibration to the mastoid bone behind the ear during the manoeuvre, having a programme of balance exercises after the manoeuvre has been done, and placing restrictions on a patient's position (for example, not sleeping on the affected ear for a few days). There are also a number of different ways to do the manoeuvre.

The Epley manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused by a rapid change in head movement. The person feels they or their surroundings are moving or rotating. Common causes are head trauma or ear infection. BPPV can be caused by debris in the semicircular canal of the ear, which continues to move after the head has stopped moving. This causes a sensation of ongoing movement that conflicts with other sensory information. The Epley manoeuvre is a treatment that is performed by a doctor (or other health personnel with appropriate training, e.g. audiological scientist, physiotherapist) and involves a series of four movements of the head and body from sitting to lying, rolling over and back to sitting. It is understood to work by moving the canal debris out of the semicircular canal. This linked video demonstrates how the Epley manoeuvre is performed.

Anterior canal benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treatment techniques

Bibliographic details: Kinne BL, Crouch NA, Strace CL.  Anterior canal benign paroxysmal positional vertigo treatment techniques. Physical Therapy Reviews 2014; 19(2): 79-85 Available from: http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/1743288X13Y.0000000112

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Summaries for consumers

Modifications of the Epley manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxsymal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused by rapid changes in head position. The person feels they or their surroundings are moving or rotating. Common causes appear to be head trauma or types of ear infection. BPPV can be caused by particles in the semicircular canal of the inner ear that continue to move when the head has stopped moving. This causes a sensation of ongoing movement that conflicts with other sensory information. The Epley manoeuvre has been shown to improve the symptoms of BPPV. This is a procedure that moves the head and body in four different movements and is designed to remove the particles (causing the underlying problem) from the semicircular canals in the inner ear. A range of modifications of the Epley manoeuvre are now used in clinical practice, including applying vibration to the mastoid bone behind the ear during the manoeuvre, having a programme of balance exercises after the manoeuvre has been done, and placing restrictions on a patient's position (for example, not sleeping on the affected ear for a few days). There are also a number of different ways to do the manoeuvre.

The Epley manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused by a rapid change in head movement. The person feels they or their surroundings are moving or rotating. Common causes are head trauma or ear infection. BPPV can be caused by debris in the semicircular canal of the ear, which continues to move after the head has stopped moving. This causes a sensation of ongoing movement that conflicts with other sensory information. The Epley manoeuvre is a treatment that is performed by a doctor (or other health personnel with appropriate training, e.g. audiological scientist, physiotherapist) and involves a series of four movements of the head and body from sitting to lying, rolling over and back to sitting. It is understood to work by moving the canal debris out of the semicircular canal. This linked video demonstrates how the Epley manoeuvre is performed.

Positional vertigo: Can the Epley maneuver help against sudden attacks of dizziness?

The Epley maneuver is a simple treatment for the relief of a type of vertigo known as “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo” (BPPV). It is considered as a treatment option if the vertigo is being caused by deposits in the ear’s organ of balance.

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Terms to know

Ear
A sense organ needed for the detection of sound and for establishing balance.
Epley Maneuver
A series of movements designed to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a balance disorder.
Nausea
A feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may come with an urge to vomit.
Vertigo
A type of dizziness with a sensation of spinning.

More about Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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Also called: Benign positional vertigo

Other terms to know: See all 4
Ear, Epley Maneuver, Nausea

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