BPPV / Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo / Ear Crystals

About BPPV

BPPV can occur from head trauma sustained in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident. Ear crystals shake loose and fall out of the utricle, floating into one of the inner ear semicircular canals, confusing the brain. As the crystals move around in the canal, the brain thinks the head is moving more than it is. This results in vertigo.

Although BPPV is described as a condition that is bothersome, but temporary; anyone who has had BPPV will tell you that it is debilitating. Life comes to a halt. It is difficult to sleep. It is difficult to stand or walk and sometimes driving is tough. In some cases, people have developed agorophobia because they are so fearful of endangering themselves and others.

BPPV Symptoms

The symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) include:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • unsteadiness
  • loss of balance
  • vertigo (sense of world spinning or moving)
  • blurred vision can accompany vertigo
  • nystagmus (eyes rotate toward affected ear)
  • light sensitivity
  • nausea (can be constant)
  • vomiting

The symptoms of BPPV can fluctuate depending on the change in the position of the head, with each episode lasting between 30-120 seconds. The frequency of the episodes varies from person to person and may depend on:

  • the number and size of ear crystals displaced
  • which canal the ear crystals have moved to
  • whether the ear crystals dissolve on their own
  • whether the ear crystals reposition on their own
  • the individual sensitivities to the displaced ear crystals

BPPV Treatment

Some people wait it out, hoping the crystals will reposition or dissolve. Anti-vertigo medications may be helpful in treating severe BPPV. Another option is a canalith repositioning procedure (Epley maneuver) which can be performed by a professional or at home. In severe cases surgical semi-circular canal occlusion can be performed.

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