BPPV is a vestibular disorder that occurs when calcium deposits in the inner ear become dislodged from the otolithic membrane and settle in the semicircular canals. These calcium deposits can shift with any change in the position of the head, causing dizziness and vertigo.
The most common symptom of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is vertigo. While episodes are typically severe, they only last for less than a minute. Other symptoms include
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Concentration difficulties
Head injury, inner ear infection, migraines, damage from ear surgery and even complications from bed rest can cause these calcium crystals to come loose. Normal aging may also lead to a degeneration of the otolithic membrane, making this condition more common in older patients.
In order to put together a treatment plan, your doctor must first determine the cause of your dizziness by conducting a series of tests.
A diagnostic physical exam evaluates eye movements in response to specific head movements. Additional testing such as electronystagmography (ENG) and videonystagmography (VNG) may be used to detect abnormal eye movement.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is an easily treatable disorder. Your doctor will perform a pattern of head movements to help move the calcium crystals from the from the semicircular canal back to the utricle. Called the Canalith Repositioning Procedure (CRP) or the Epley maneuver, this brief procedure takes about five minutes and successfully relieves symptoms in more than 85 percent of patients.
If CRP does not provide relief, patients may undergo surgery. While successful, both posterior semicircular canal occlusion and vestibular nerve carry a risk of hearing loss following surgery. Antibiotic gentamicin and vestibular rehabilitation may also prove successful.
Call Audiology Center Northwest at (503) 232-1845 for more information or to schedule an appointment.