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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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Last updated November 29, 2021

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What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common type of vertigo. Symptoms range from mild to severe and usually last for just a few minutes. They often disappear on their own but can come back in 15% to 20% of people.

BPPV occurs when calcium carbonate crystals that are normally found in a part of your inner ear break free and travel to the nearby canals. When the crystals enter the canals, your brain may receive incorrect signals about your body’s position. This causes a spinning sensation when you move your head or change positions.

Symptoms

  • Sudden vertigo when you move your head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Balance problems

Treatment

If you have BPPV, your doctor may recommend exercises that help reposition the crystals. You may also need to work with a physical therapist.

If your symptoms continue, antihistamines or nausea medication may help. If these don’t control your symptoms, your doctor may recommend benzodiazepines such as Valium.

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