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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo


Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is an inner ear condition. BPPV is also called positional vertigo or benign (not life-threatening) paroxysmal nystagmus. With BPPV you have paroxysmal (sudden) attacks of vertigo when you change your head position. Vertigo is the sudden feeling that you or the room is moving or spinning. With each attack of vertigo, you may have nystagmus. Nystagmus is a quick, shaky eye movement that you cannot control. The attacks of vertigo and nystagmus last from a few seconds up to 1 minute. BPPV attacks may cause an upset stomach and vomiting and may increase your risk for falls.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Treatments for BPPV may cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment may also cause you to faint. Treatment may cause the otoconia pieces to leave one semicircular canal and enter another. Even after treatment to move the otoconia out of your semicircular canal, your symptoms may not improve. If your symptoms resolve, they may return. You may need treatment again. If you have surgery to treat your BPPV, you may have problems with your balance. After surgery, you may have temporary or permanent hearing loss.

  • If you do not get treatment for BPPV, your symptoms, such as vertigo and nausea, may get worse. You may be at higher risk for falling and getting hurt. You may not be able to drive if your vertigo gets worse. You may become depressed or anxious. You may worry so much about having an attack of vertigo that you will not leave your home. Your symptoms of BPPV may interfere with your ability to do your daily activities, such as work. Talk with your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

Treatment options:

  • Surgery: Ask your caregiver for information about the following surgeries:

    • Posterior semicircular canal occlusion: During this surgery, your posterior semicircular canal is filled with bone chips or glue. The filled canal blocks otoconia from entering and causing BPPV.

    • Singular neurectomy: During this surgery, part of a nerve that connects to your posterior semicircular canal is cut. Cutting the nerve resolves your symptoms of BPPV.

  • Vestibular and balance rehabilitation therapy: During vestibular and balance rehabilitation therapy (VBRT), you learn exercises to improve your balance and strength. VBRT may help decrease your dizziness and prevent injuries if you are at risk for falls.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.