What is BPPV?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo – the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning. Dizziness episodes occur when the patient moves their head or gets out of bed in a particular manner.

How is BPPV Treated?

One type of treatment for BPPV is called “Canalith-repositioning Maneuver”. It is a series of head movements that move displaced “calcium crystals” out of the semi-circular canals within the inner ear. This form of dizziness treatment can be more effective than medication or other forms of exercised-based therapy. Symptoms can resolve after 1-2 sessions for most patients.

How Can an Audiologist Help in the Assessment and/or Treatment of the Dizzy Patient?

For most dizzy patients, their otologist or physician will use medical history combined diagnostic tests to rule out non-ear related types of dizziness. Once other medical or emergency type causes have been excluded, an audiologist can help. Audiologists can perform special tests to help determine the cause of dizziness and the treatment needed.

After the balance exam and once a diagnosis by a physician have been determined, there may be multiple balance treatment options available.

Treatment for dizziness has been proven effective for most ear related dizziness. Recommendations by your physician may include physical or vestibular therapy, medication, diet management and occasionally surgical intervention. Recommendations by your audiologist may include vestibular rehabilitation, which is a series of exercises or maneuvers designed to improve balance and reduce complaints of dizziness.

Balance Assessments Include

Videonystagmography (VNG)/Balance Assessment:
Evaluates the function of the vestibular or balance portion of the inner ear. Eye movements are measured while the inner ear is stimulated. Stimulation may be produced by eye movement, head movement, body position changes, or the presentation of cool and warm air, or water into the inner ear.

Otoacoustic Emissions:
Otoacoustic Emissions evaluates the function of the inner ear; the test simply identifies if there is inner ear function but does not measure the amount of hearing. The test can be performed while the patient is awake but he/she has to be quiet and still.

A complete vestibular, or dizzy, assessment will take about two hours. The test is painless but you may feel dizzy or nauseated for some time after the appointment. It is recommended that you arrange for someone to drive you home following your appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Medication prescribed for dizziness should not be taken. A patient is encouraged to follow the provided instructions, which basically prohibit any medication other than life sustaining medication. If a patient is still in doubt, they should contact the prescribing doctor.

The testing procedures cause some patients to become nauseated. For this reason, patients are instructed not to eat three hours prior to the exam.