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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo. Vertigo is the feeling of dizziness in the head. BPPV is triggered by changes to the position of your head, this may occur when you tip your head up or down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed. In most cases, vertigo is frustrating condition to have although it is not a serious as it seems until the dizziness increases your chances of falling over. Effective treatment for vertigo is available from your doctor.


The most common signs and symptoms of (BPPV) vertigo may be:

  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Loss of balance (uneasy when standing)
  • A sense of moving surroundings (vertigo)
  • Dizziness

Symptoms of BPPV can come and go. Typically, symptoms only last up to 1 minute, episodes can disappear and the return with no patterning. Although some activities do bring on the symptoms but this varies from person to person. Most of the time the symptoms are brought on as a result of the position of your head. Occasionally abnormal rhythmic eye movements can accompany the symptoms of (BPPV) vertigo.

If you suspect you may be suffering from vertigo you should see a doctor. Although its uncommon that dizziness is related to a serious pathology if you experience any of the following you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • A fever
  • Double vision/ loss of vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of arm or leg strength
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Falling or difficulty walking


In a lot of BPPV cases the cause is unknown and the condition is known as idiopathic BPPV. When a cause can be determined it is often a result of an impact injury to the head. Inside your ear there is small space known as the vestibular labyrinth. This labyrinth includes looped shaped canals known a semicircular canals. The canals contain fluid and fine hair type sensors that monitor movement of the head. Another structure located in the ear is an otolith organ, the otolith organ contains crystals that make us sensitive to gravity. Occasionally these crystals can become dislodged, when this happens there is a risk that they may move into the semicircular canal. This process is what cases the feeling of dizziness and the canal becomes sensitive to head positioning.

Treatment options

Canalith repositioning

This type of treatment is performed by a physiotherapist. The procedure is several simple slow manoeuvrers for positioning your head, the goal is to move the crystals out of the semicircular canals of your inner ear to the open area known as the vestibule that holds the crystals without any symptoms. Each position is held for around 30 seconds, normally treatments will be effective after one or two sessions. Your physiotherapist can teach you how to perform the canalith procedure on yourself so if necessary, you can do it at home.

Surgical alternative

In rare situations when canalith repositioning is not effective, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure which will involve blocking the part of the ear that causes the dizziness.

Strand House, 169 Richmond Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT2 5DA 020 8546 6464