Traditional BPPV typically causes spinning vertigo symptoms and robust nystagmus during BPPV testing. However, I see a lot of patients who have not gotten answers or relief with traditional vertigo health care.
BPPV without Spinning
In many so-called atypical vertigo cases that have failed to resolve with traditional vestibular health care, I frequently find mild intensity, widespread BPPV in multiple canals within both ears with corresponding weak nystagmus of short duration.
That means multiple canals in both ears appear to have BPPV crystals during testing, but the positional symptoms are mild such as transient dizziness, blurry vision, falling sensation, or nausea, not the typical intense spinning sensation characteristic of BPPV.
Atypical Vertigo Cases: What are Some Examples?
You may be wondering, “How can this happen?” I will share my observations for these atypical vertigo cases.
In some atypical vertigo cases, I have observed the presentation of mild, widespread BPPV in both ears may occur in patients who have been living with vertigo for years while trying to maintain an active lifestyle such as surfing, yoga, martial arts, and other sports or recreational activities.
I also find mild, widespread BPPV in patients who have experienced multiple onsets of vertigo over a multi-year period and thought the vertigo may have “gone away on its own” each time, so they have never sought professional help.
Effects of Mild, Widespread BPPV in Both Ears
For patients with mild, widespread BPPV in both ears, it appears as if someone took a leafblower to the inside of their inner ears spreading the BPPV particles all over the place throughout the vestibular labyrinth on each side. Essentially, it’s a pervasive mess that needs to be cleaned up methodically, similar to coming home from the beach and tracking sand through multiple rooms in your house.
I also sometimes explain to my patients that the ultimate effect of this condition on their neurological system is as if someone set up multiple radios all around them, playing different music continuously and simultaneously. In such atypical vertigo cases, the multiple conflicting errors in sensory input from the BPPV crystals spread throughout their vestibular system can overwhelm and stress their central nervous system, similar to listening to multiple songs at the same time.
Mild, widespread BPPV in multiple canals within both ears can cause significant daily distress and disability, may persist without a satisfactory diagnosis, and typically requires a higher than average number of visits to completely resolve step by step.
Even after the resolution of these atypical vertigo cases and successful relief of mild, widespread BPPV with particle repositioning maneuvers, some patients may still have lingering, residual dizziness for up to two weeks. That feeling usually dissipates as their brain recovers and recalibrates, especially with daily movement and good quality sleep.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.