Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common inner ear disorder that affects balance. In the event of trauma, as a result of virus or with age, naturally existing crystal otoliths (calcium carbonate) in the ear become dislodged. The overriding symptom of BPPV is brief vertigo, lasting less than one minute. Paroxysmal means it happens suddenly. Positional refers to the fact that it is brought on when head or body position is changed, as when looking upwards, rolling over in bed, lying flat, sitting up in bed or getting out of bed.

Besides vertigo, other symptoms include:

  • "Brain fog"
  • Headache
  • Imbalance
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness between vertigo spells
  • Nausea/vomiting

Diagnosis

Medical history and a physical examination are used to diagnose BPPV. Observing eye movement when the patient is placed in various positions helps to determine the condition. To better understand and treat patients, an OSU Wexner Medical Center physician or advance practice provider may test for other specific causes of BPPV, including labyrinthitis or Meniere’s disease.

The Department of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has a staff dedicated to perform the most advanced testing. That helps ensure you are properly diagnosed so that your treatment can be as effective as possible and that you can get faster results.

Treatment

BPPV is treated by putting the patient in various physical positions, called Epley maneuvers, to move the displaced otoliths. These head and body movements take about five minutes and often deliver immediate results. However, in some cases, it can take 24-72 hours to be symptom-free. If you have a relapse, you can be successfully treated again. There is relatively little risk to this procedure.

Why Choose Ohio State

The Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at OSU Wexner Medical Center has been successfully evaluating and treating patients with ear-related issues for decades. Many of our patients are referred to us by local ENTs due to our outstanding reputation.

A dedicated testing staff: We have a vestibular technician who is highly trained to recognize vestibular disorders through vestibular testing.

Trained specialists: Among our physicians are a group of neurotologists who are highly skilled in treating all diseases of the ear, medically or surgically. Many of the neurotologists in the state of Ohio are found here.

Nationally recognized: OSU Wexner Medical Center is recognized by U.S.News & World Report one of the nation’s best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat.

Dr. Aaron Moberly explains Ohio State's expertise in treating BPPV, a common source of vertigo.
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