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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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Page 17 of 21

18 Patient Information Frequently Asked Questions 1. What is BPPV? • Benign Paroxysmal Position Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common inner ear problem and cause of vertigo, or false sense of spinning. BPPV is a specific diagnosis and each word describes the condition: Benign – it is not life-threatening, even though the symptoms can be very intense and upsetting Paroxysmal (par-ek-siz-muhl) – it comes in sudden, short spells Positional – certain head positions or movements can trigger a spell Vertigo – feeling as if you are spinning or the world around you is spinning 2. What causes BPPV? • There are crystals of calcium carbonate that are a normal part of our inner ear and help us with our balance and body motion. These tiny rocklike crystals or "otoconia" (oh-toe-cone-ee-uh) are settled in the center "pouch" of the inner ear. BPPV is caused by the crystals becoming "unglued" from their normal place. They begin to float around and/or get stuck on sensors in the wrong or canal part of the inner ear. The most intense part of your BPPV symptoms have to do with how long it takes the crystal/sensor to settle after you move or change your head or body position. As the crystals move and settle, your brain is getting powerful (false) messages that you are violently spinning when all you may have done is lie down or roll over in bed. 3. What are the common symptoms and how can BPPV affect me? • Everyone will experience BPPV differently, but there are common symptoms. The most common symptoms are distinct triggered spells of vertigo or spinning sensations. You may experience nausea (sometimes vomiting ) and/or a severe sense of disorientation in space. You may also feel unstable or that you are losing your balance. These symptoms will be intense for seconds to minutes. You can have lasting feelings of dizziness and instability, but at a lesser level, once the episode has passed. In some people, especially seniors, BPPV can appear as an isolated sense of instability brought on by position change like sitting up, looking up, bending over, and reaching. BPPV does not cause constant severe dizziness that is not affected by position or movement. BPPV does not affect your hearing or cause you to faint. The natural course of BPPV is to become less severe over time. People will often report that their very first BPPV spinning episode was the worst and the following episodes were not as bad. 4. How common is BPPV? • BPPV is very common. It is more common in older people. Many of us will experience it at some time in our lives.

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