Vertigo symptoms can be really distressing. They can make you wonder if there is something seriously wrong with your health. Let’s take a look at vertigo a bit closer.
What is vertigo?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo as it affects roughly 50% of people at some point in their life. It is more common in older people. It is a symptom of the condition and can come on suddenly as a sensation of your body spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness.
There are two main subtypes of positional vertigo:
- BPPV with the involvement of posterior canal (positive Dix Hall Pike maneuver)
- BPPV with the involvement of the horizontal (lateral) canal (positive Horizontal Roll Test)
What are vertigo symptoms?
- Spinning sensation lasting usually between 30-60 secs and occurring on changing the position of the body or head
- It may be difficult to read or see during an attack
- Feeling faint or fainting
- Vomiting is uncommon
- Loss of balance, feeling unsteady, feeling like you about to fall
What does it mean ”Benign”?
It means that the cause of positional vertigo and your symptoms are not sinister and are rather annoying that life-threatening.
What causes benign positional vertigo?
This is a tricky one as we simply do not know much about this symptom and in most cases, the cause is idiopathic ( the way to say we do not know what is causing it). Although the BPPV is not well understood, we think small calcium deposits (crystals) in the inner ear may cause the feeling of the head spinning. The other factors include: degenerative changes in the inner ear, head injury in people aged 50 and below., viral infection, Meniere’s disease and trauma.
Can it be cured?
It often goes away only to come back later on. Long periods of remission are possible. This type of vertigo responds well to physiotherapy and prescribed rehab exercises.
How long do vertigo symptoms last?
The symptoms of BPPV do not last long but can be distressing and lead to anxiety and fear of leaving the house or doing things you used to enjoy. Attacks do not usually last more than 60 seconds but can happen frequently.
Can benign positional vertigo go on its own?
It can get better over time but it may come back at any point. One needs to learn to live with it and manage it by doing specialist exercises.
How do you reset crystals in your ear?
There are a few exercises that people with BPPV can do to help reposition crystals and improve symptoms. Exercises are likely to trigger BPPV but will help you avoid attacks later.
What triggers vertigo symptoms?
It is the sudden change in the position of the body and head that triggers vertigo. You may have it when sitting down, getting into bed, turning your head to greet a friend. Very often vertigo comes on out of the blue when you least expect it.
What is the best medicine for vertigo?
Medicines, such as prochlorperazine and some antihistamines, can help in the early stages or most cases of vertigo
What foods trigger vertigo symptoms?
Visit the website dedicated to vestibular disorders and read the article on dietary considerations
Can ear crystals fall out of your ear?
No hey cant but they can move to a different part of the ear and cause symptoms of vertigo
Can exercises help me?
Yes, they can, and sometimes they can be very effective.
The exercises can stop the dizzy spells experienced by BPPV sufferers. It is not clear why the exercises work, some evidence suggests that the exercises help to relocate the loose crystals that cause the dizziness in the first place, whereas other evidence suggests that repeated exposure to the feeling of dizziness reduces its intensity.
What are the best exercises for positional vertigo?
So far, Lempert Maneuver (for horizontal canal BPPV ) and Epley Maneuver ( for posterior canal BPPV) proved most effective and are widely recommended to patients by specialists:
What are Brandt-Daroff exercises
The Brandt-Daroff exercises are a series of particle repositioning exercises that can be performed without a qualified health professional present and are easily taught to the patient. Around 25% of patients responded to these exercises after one week hence it is best to use then as an adjuvant treatment.
What are the risks or disadvantages?
The exercises are likely to provoke dizziness, therefore should be performed in a safe environment, preferably with another person present. Some people find it difficult to persevere with the exercises but the exercises have a good success rate.
I am a Chartered Physiotherapist and Master Myofascial Therapist practicing in Southampton, Hampshire. I was working in the NHS between 2008 and 2021. My speciality lies in treating musculoskeletal conditions and providing community rehabilitation.