Do you suffer from positional vertigo (Dizziness)?


Vertigo is the awful sensation of the room spinning around and may be accompanied by dizziness, imbalance and nausea. If these symptoms are brought on by a change in position such as turning over in bed, looking up, leaning forwards, bending down to pick something up etc. then you could be suffering from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). While the symptoms are extremely uncomfortable and disruptive to normal life, the condition is both easily diagnosed and treated for the vast majority of people.

Why are these symptoms occurring?


The vestibular system is a complex structure made up of the inner ear, the eye and the brain. The inner ear contains 3 canals in each ear which communicate with the brain regarding the position of our head to help keep us balanced. The canals contain a fluid and crystals of calcium called otoconia. These otoconia can become displaced and float around the canal. When we change our position, the otoconia move, disrupting feedback to the brain causing vertigo and its associated symptoms.


How do we diagnose BPPV?


BPPV is diagnosed by both detailed history taking and a physical exam. When a person is experiencing vertigo the eyeball makes rapid, involuntary movements called nystagmus. The direction of this nystagmus tells the vestibular physiotherapist exactly where the otoconia have become loose. The Dix-Hallpike test, while using infra-red goggles, is designed to objectively diagnose this condition accurately by reproducing the symptoms in a very controlled environment.

How do we treat BPPV?

Once the direction of the nystagmus is established, the vestibular physiotherapist does a manoeuvre to move the displaced otoconia out of the affected canal. These manoeuvres are specific to which canal is affected and involve a series of patterned head and trunk movements. 95%of patients are symptom free following one manoeuvre, the other 5% require a repeated manoeuvre.

As well as the manoeuvres, vestibular rehabilitation exercises to be performed at home are prescribed based on the individual’s particular weakness.

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Is that you?

Have you been reading this thinking “oh that sounds a little bit like me but not quite?” This article was written specifically about BPPV, however there are other vestibular disorders. Vertigo is a symptom not a diagnosis. If you have been experiencing any symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, difficulty concentrating, difficulty in crowded environments or driving and these symptoms are not resolving then a Vestibular Assessment would be of benefit to you.

For any further queries contact Sheila Barrett & Associates at East Cork Physiotherapy, Balance and Acupuncture Clinic. 021-4633455