BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)

BPPV causes short episodes of intense dizziness (vertigo) when the head is moved in certain directions. It is most commonly detected in older people.


The vertigo lasts just a short time - typically just for 20 to 30 seconds - and usually no longer than a minute. It then goes away completely if you keep your head still. The vertigo is usually triggered by a change in head position. With each episode of vertigo, you may feel sick but this should pass within an hour.


BPPV is thought to be caused by tiny, solid fragments or crystals (otoconia) in the inner ear labyrinth (the balance part of the ear) becoming displaced. These otoconia are involved in our sense of orientation and balance. In many cases, the condition gets better on its own after several weeks.


Diagnosis will start with understanding your medical history and then determining when and where the symptoms occur. You may be referred for further testing by a specialist audiology or medical professional. They may use a diagnostic test called the Dix-Hallpike test to look at the nystagmus, or movement of the eyes, which is evident in people with BPPV.

Treatment and prevention

In most cases, the symptoms clear away within several weeks or months. A simple treatment of moving the head into various positions over a few minutes, as instructed by a professional, can cure the condition in many cases. This treatment uses gravity to move the tiny fragments away from where they are causing problems.

There is no evidence to suggest that you can prevent BPPV or the reoccurrence of BPPV.