Benign positional vertigo

Alternative Names

Vertigo – positional

Definition of Benign positional vertigo

Benign positional vertigo is a condition in which a person develops a sudden sensation of spinning, usually when moving the head. It is the most common cause of .

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Benign positional vertigo is due to a disturbance within the inner ear. The inner ear has fluid-filled tubes called semicircular canals. The canals are very sensitive to movement of the fluid, which occurs as you change position. The fluid movement allows your brain to interpret your body’s position and maintain your balance.

Symptoms

The main symptom is a spinning sensation, which:

Signs and tests

To diagnose benign positional vertigo, the health care provider will often perform a test called the Dix-Hallpike maneuver. The doctor holds your head in a certain position and asks you to lie quickly backward over a table. As you do this, the doctor will look for abnormal eye movements and ask if you feel a spinning sensation. The doctor may use various methods to help evaluate your eye movements.

Treatment

The most effective treatment is a procedure called “Epley’s maneuver,” which can move the small piece of bone-like calcium that is floating inside your inner ear. Other exercises that can readjust your response to head movements are less effective.

Expectations (prognosis)

Benign positional vertigo is uncomfortable, but usually improves with time. This condition may occur again without warning.

Review

David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. – 8/3/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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