Symptoms Of Benign Positional Vertigo: Causes And Treatment

Vertigo is a sudden sensation that the inside of your head is rotating or that you are giddy and gyrating. Benign positional vertigo manifests as short spells of mild to intense giddiness. The condition is triggered by particular alterations in the position of your head. It may come on when you are lying down, when you tilt the head upwards or downwards, when you turn over, or when you sit up in bed.

The condition can be really bothersome, but it’s seldom serious, except if it causes you to fall.

Signs And Symptoms Of Benign Positional Vertigo

The condition manifests as:

  • Giddiness
  • A feeling as if you are spinning or your surroundings is moving.
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Being unsteady

The symptoms come and go, with an episode lasting less than 60 seconds. The symptoms disappear for some time and then reappear.

Activities which trigger the vertigo differ from individual to individual, but are usually set off by a change in the position of your head. An associated feature of the disorder is nystamus – i.e. abnormal rhythmic eye movements.

What Causes Benign Positional Vertigo?

  • Usually, benign positional vertigo is idiopathic, i.
    e. there is no known cause.
  • Trauma / injury to the head is a significant causative factor.
  • The condition is also linked to migraines.
  • Damage to the inner ear or damage occurring during an ear surgery or during a long drawn out procedure such as when sitting in a dentist chair.
  • Inside the ear is the vestibular labyrinth. It comprises of fluid and thin, hair-like sensors which monitor the turning round of your head. The otolith organs in the ear keep an eye on movements of the head – i.e. right and left, up and down, back and forth as well as the position of the head related to gravity. Otolith organs enclose crystals which make us sensitive to gravity. These crystals may get dislodged; when this happens, they move to one of the semicircular canals. This causes the semicircular canals to get sensitive to alterations in the position of your head and makes you feel giddy.

Treatment For Benign Positional Vertigo

Benign positional vertigo tends to fade away on its own in a couple of months. To deal with the situation better however, confer with your health care provider; your doctor, audiologist and physiotherapist will treat you with the canalith repositioning procedure.

  • The canalith repositioning technique comprises of simple and slow manoeuvres to position the head. The chief aim of this procedure is to move the crystals from fluid-filled semicircular canals to vestibule which has the otolith organs. Each position in the technique is held for 30 seconds after your symptoms and / or abnormal eye movements halt. Your physician will show you how to carry out the canalith repositioning procedure by yourself, so you can do it at home if needed.
  • In some cases, the canalith repositioning procedure may not be effective, then your doctor will advise surgical intervention, in which a bone plug is used to wedge that segment of the inner ear that is triggering the giddiness. The bone plug helps prevent the semicircular canal in the ear from responding to particle or head movements. The success rate for this surgery is about 90 %.