Benign Positional Vertigo - Causes and Symptoms

Question: I am a 49 yr old female and have had Benign Positional Vertigo on and off for 38 years.  Can you please recommend a specialist who can help me be rid of this curse once and for all? I’ve been to several Dr’s including an Eply therapist. Nothing has kept it from coming back.  For instance, I’ve not been able to sleep on my right side for 15 mos without waking up with the room spinning.  I would appreciate your feedback.

Answer: Benign positional vertigo is a specific type of imbalance.  It occurs when a little hair fiber is knocked off in the fluid of the inner ear balance organ, or labyrinth.   Normally, when we turn our head,  fluid in the inner ear moves along little microscopic   “hair”  fibers in the labyrinth.  This gives off an electrical current that the brain uses to determine position.  If a fiber gets knocked off-  perhaps from trauma or a viral infection, the fiber can float in the fluid for a few seconds after turning your head- giving off an electrical current and causing dizziness, until the fiber settles down.

With benign positional vertigo, one gets dizzy turning the head a certain direction.  It is repeatable, but only lasts for a few seconds to a minute.  This can be treated with the “Epley Maneuver”-  a way of moving around the head to get the fiber “stuck” in a corner, so the symptoms resolve.   While this tends to be quite successful (90 or so per cent of the time),  it is not 100%.

Should this not work, one needs to be certain of the diagnosis- and there are other interventions that can also be recommended, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Dr. Neil Sperling is our office is a superlative neurotologist, and specializes is issues such as these.