Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Explained

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork is well known for taking his health seriously. So, when he came to set to host the show and said he was feeling dizzy and experiencing distressing symptoms, The Doctors enlisted the help of neurotologist Dr. Ted Mcrackan for an emergency onstage examination.

“All day today has been a fog,” Dr. Travis explains as Dr. Mcrackan asks him a series of routine questions to understand the possible causes of his sudden onset of dizziness. Dr. Travis describes feeling as if the world were spinning around him.

Based on Dr. Travis’ symptoms and his description of a bike accident he suffered the day before, Dr. Mcrackan diagnoses him with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, one of the most common forms of vertigo. BPPV is characterized by episodes of mild to severe dizziness, which are triggered by sudden movements of the head or by lying down, turning over or sitting up in bed.

Dr. Mcrackan explains that BPPV is caused by tiny particles within the canals of the inner ear becoming dislodged and moving, resulting in a false feeling of motion.

“It’s jarring,” Dr. Travis says. “If you’re just walking down the street and all of a sudden you have no balance, and you feel like you’re on a ship and the world is spinning – that’s vertigo.” 

Common symptoms of BPPV include:

  • A feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning
  • Dizziness
  • A loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms may come and go throughout the day, and each episode can last less than one minute.

While vertigo is usually caused by a benign inner ear disruption, it can be a sign of a more serious condition. Seek emergency care if you experience vertigo along with any of the following symptoms: numbness, leg or arm weakness, chest pain, rapid or slow heart rate, severe headache, a fever of 101 degrees or higher, double vision or loss of vision, hearing loss, trouble speaking or loss of consciousness.

Treatment options

To relieve the symptoms of BPPV, a physician can employ a series of movements, including the Epley maneuver, to help the particles move back to their proper placement and restore balance to the inner ear.

Watch as Dr. Mcrackan performs the Epley maneuver on Dr. Travis:

Dr. Mcrackan adds that Dr. Travis may continue to experience mild disequilibrium but should start feeling better within a few days.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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