Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)


One of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the interior of your head is spinning — is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
BPPV causes short bursts of mild to severe dizziness. It is frequently induced by certain changes in the position of your head. This can happen when you tilt your head up or down, lie down, or turn over or sit up in bed.
Although BPPV might be annoying, it is rarely dangerous unless it raises the risk of falling. BPPV can be effectively treated at a doctor’s office visit.


BPPV signs and symptoms may consist of:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vertigo – the sensation that you or everything around you is spinning
  • Unsteady gait or lack of balance

The symptoms of BPPV come and go and usually last less than a minute. BPPV episodes can disappear for a while and then reappear. Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo are frequently accompanied by abnormal rhythmic eye movements.

Activities that cause BPPV symptoms differ from person to person, but are virtually always triggered by a shift in head position. When standing or walking, some people feel unbalanced.

Consult your doctor if you have recurring, sudden, severe, or protracted dizziness or vertigo.

Although dizziness seldom indicates a serious illness, call for emergency help promptly if you have dizziness or vertigo combined with any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden or severe headache
  • Fainting
  • Falling
  • Walking problem
  • Weakness of the arms and legs
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Fever
  • Vision problem (e.g., double vision or not being able to see)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech problem

The above-mentioned signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious condition


When a cause of BPPV is identified, BPPV is frequently connected with a slight to severe trauma to the head. Less common causes of BPPV include inner ear diseases or, in rare cases, damage caused by ear surgery or long durations positioned on your back, such as in a dentist chair. BPPV has also been linked to migraines.

There is frequently no known cause of BPPV. This is known as idiopathic BPPV.

Ear function

The vestibular labyrinth is a small organ located inside your ear. It consists of three loop-shaped structures (semicircular canals) that hold fluid and fine, hairlike sensors that track the rotation of your head.

Otolith organs, Other structures in your ear, detect your head’s movements — up and down, right and left, back and forth — as well as your head’s location in relation to gravity. These otolith organs contain crystals that make you gravitationally sensitive.

These crystals might get dislodged for a variety of reasons. They can move into one of the semicircular canals when they become dislodged, especially if you’re lying down. This causes the semicircular canal to become sensitive to changes in head position that it would typically not respond to, which causes dizziness.

Risk factors

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is most common in adults over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age. BPPV is also more prevalent in women than men. A head injury or any other condition of your ear’s balance organs may make you more vulnerable to BPPV.