Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Inner ear with debris in semcircular canal

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 be mild, or it may be bad enough to cause unsteadiness, nausea, and vomiting.

When you move, your inner ear sends messages to the brain. This helps you keep your balance. Vertigo can happen when debris builds up in the inner ear. The buildup 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 medicines or exercises to help with your symptoms.

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 call line 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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor suggests that you do Brandt-Daroff exercises:
    • Sit on the edge of a bed or sofa. Quickly lie down on the side that causes the worst vertigo. Lie on your side with your ear down.
    • Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds or until the vertigo goes away.
    • Sit up. If this causes vertigo, wait for it to stop.
    • Repeat the procedure on the other side.
    • Repeat this 10 times. Do these exercises 2 times a day until the vertigo is gone.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • You have new symptoms such as hearing loss or roaring in your ears.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are not getting better as expected.
  • Your vertigo gets worse.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: July 29, 2016