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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, also called BPPV, is an inner ear problem. It causes a spinning or whirling sensation when you move your head. This sensation is called vertigo.
The vertigo usually lasts for less than a minute. People often have vertigo spells for a few days or weeks. Then the vertigo goes away. But it may come back again. The vertigo may also cause unsteadiness, nausea, and vomiting. You may be at risk for falls.
When you move, your inner ear sends messages to the brain. This helps you keep your balance. Vertigo can happen when tiny calcium "stones" move into an area of your inner ear called the semicircular canal. This can cause the inner ear to send the wrong message to the brain.
Your doctor may move you in different positions to help your vertigo get better faster. This is called the Epley manoeuvre. Your doctor may also prescribe exercises for you to do on your own.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Vertigo causes loss of balance and puts you at risk for falling. Be extra careful so that you don't hurt yourself or someone else if you have a sudden attack of vertigo.
Your doctor may suggest that you do the Epley manoeuvre at home. Here's how:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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