Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a form of vertigo that usually lasts less than 30 seconds, but happens intermittently. It originates from the inner ear where there are otoconia or “ear rocks”. They originate from degenerative changes of the lining inside the balance organ and get stuck in one position, essentially giving false signals to the brain regarding the body balance (position in space). This causes confusion and dizziness as the signals from the eyes are not in agreement with the signals generated by the balance organs.
Head trauma, middle ear infection and a closing off of the vestibular artery have all been implicated as causes of this condition.
this condition occurs when the patient extends the head backwards or when the patient lies on one ear. At the same time nystagmus (rapid jerky eye movements) may occur.
Provocative tests are done looking for nystagmus and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo with sudden positional changes. The otolaryngologist will want to also order an MRI scan of the head to rule out an acoustic neuroma or other serious abnormality.
The condition often subsides on its own in several months or a few years. A special positional desensitisation technique (thanks to www.medicalook.com for this link) has been introduced by physiotherapists, which is quite effective in a large percentage of patients (Ref. 3, p.679). It is called canalith repositioning procedure.
You can find more detailed info about this condition (thanks to www.tchain.com for this link) through this link.
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