Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is an inner ear problem that results in severe, short-lasting bursts of “room-spinning” vertigo which occur with changes in head position. It starts suddenly and is usually first noticed in bed when rolling over or waking from sleep.
BPPV is caused by the dislodging of small calcium carbonate crystals called otoconia that become trapped in the fluid of the balance canals in the inner ear. Gravity and head movements cause the otoconia to shift in the canals, causing vertigo. This is often a result of head trauma or a severe cold.
BPPV is a very common cause of vertigo and is often easily diagnosed and treated during a routine office visit. Treatment consists of sequential movement of the head into four positions, maintaining each position for approximately one minute. This moves the otoconia from their offending position, eliminating symptoms. This process is known as the Epley Maneuver, or the Canolith Repositioning Procedure, and is a highly successful treatment for BPPV.