Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is caused when things like infection or inflammation stop the tiny calcium "stones" inside the inner ear from moving as they should. This sends a false message to the brain and affects a person's balance.

The tiny stones inside the inner ear canals help a person maintain balance. Normally, for certain movements, such as when standing up or turning the head, these stones move around. When this normal movement is blocked, BPPV can occur.

Vertigo that lasts less than a minute is the main symptom of BPPV. The vertigo is triggered by a certain head movement.

Treatment usually involves a series of head movements to move the debris in the inner ear to a place where it does not affect balance. BPPV may briefly go away but can return without warning. Avoiding the positions that cause vertigo may prevent symptoms.

Last Updated: December 29, 2008

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology

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