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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo


BPPV is an inner ear condition. BPPV is also called positional vertigo or benign (not life-threatening) paroxysmal nystagmus. Nystagmus is a quick, shaky eye movement that you cannot control. BPPV causes sudden attacks of vertigo when you change your head position. Vertigo is the feeling that you or the room is moving or spinning. With each attack of vertigo, you may have nystagmus. The attacks of vertigo and nystagmus last from a few seconds up to 1 minute. BPPV symptoms often happen when small pieces of calcium float into the semicircular canals in your inner ears.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • You have new changes in your vision and feel weak or confused.
  • You have problems hearing, or you have ringing or buzzing in your ears.
  • Your BPPV symptoms return and last longer than 1 minute.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms, such as vertigo or nystagmus, get worse.
  • You feel anxious or depressed and do not want to leave your home.
  • You have problems with your balance, or you fall often.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent or manage your symptoms:

  • Avoid sudden head movements.
  • Do not bend over at the waist.
  • Keep your head raised when you lie down. Place pillows under your upper back and head or rest in a recliner.
  • Try not to stay in bed for long periods of time. Change your position often when you are in bed. Try not to lie with your head on the same side for long periods of time.
  • Wear a helmet when you ride a bike or play sports. A helmet helps protect your head from injury.

For more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • American Hearing Research Foundation
    275 North York Street, Suite 401
    Elmhurst , IL 60126
    Phone: 1- 630 - 617-5079
    Web Address:

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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.