Many people ask me, what is BPPV? They also want to know what symptoms are common with this vestibular disorder.
The B in BPPV stands for Benign, which means it is not a disease or a pathology. However, the secondary effects of unresolved BPPV can be very serious, like loss of muscle stress and excessive worry.
The P stands for Paroxysmal. This is a fancy word that means it is not constant. It comes and it goes, so it is occasional.
The second P stands for Positional.
The V in BPPV stands for Vertigo.
Vertigo is defined as a false sense of spinning, tilting, or translating when you are actually still, OR it can be a distorted perception of otherwise normal motions.
Many people use the terms dizziness and vertigo as if they are the same. In fact, the symptoms of vertigo are different that what would be described as dizziness. Some people have both!
Someone with vertigo is going to have a false feeling of motion or a distortion of normal motion. Whereas, someone with dizziness is going to have a feeling of lightheadedness or a feeling like they are about to pass out.
Dizziness is the kind of feeling that people get if they stand up too quickly, especially if they are on blood pressure medicine or dehydrated. They do not feel any false motion, but they feel like they might pass out.
Vertigo, by definition, has a false sense of motion or a distortion of motion.
This false sense of motion can be a tilting feeling, spinning feeling, or a sliding feeling.
The false feeling of sliding or tilting is typically forward, backward, to the side, or some combination of those directions.
The spinning feeling can be either clockwise or counter-clockwise in the direction you are facing, or a sideways spin as if you are rolling in a barrel.
I had a young lady recently who was walking straight down a level hallway in her home and she said that she felt like she was walking down into the floor or down a set of stairs. She looked perfectly normal to me but she felt like she was walking down into the ground or sinking into the floor with each step.
That example is considered vertigo because she had an abnormal perception of otherwise normal motion.
I had another patient who described feeling like she was thrown off the edge of the earth into a spinning black hole when she rolled over in bed. To an observer, she simply looked like she was rolling over in bed.
That is a classic description of vertigo caused by BPPV.
Vertigo can manifest in any of those ways, but the point is that what the person feels like is happening, is not what anyone looking at them sees happening. That is why BPPV creates an invisible disability.
Are you experiencing symptoms of vertigo or BPPV? If so, it may be beneficial to seek professional help from a vertigo expert.
I have published many other free, educational blogs with more detailed information about common causes of BPPV and recurrence of BPPV. I also have blogs on prevention of BPPV, self-treatment for BPPV, and how BPPV can affect your sleeping position as well as a BPPV overview.
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.
I have vertigo along with headache on top part of my head. Recent MRI reveals no vascular damage other than normal aging (I am 72).
I am going to local vertigo specialist Physical Therapist. I am under medical treatment. 40 mg daily of Lisinopryl has brought my BP to normal in the mornings. Since I can’t feel high or normal BP, I am using my monitor as a tool for biofeedback to identify stressors. I chose to quit driving as I could never forgive myself if I hurt someone else.
A trusted friend handles my medications & taken me off all supplements so am only on prescriptions for high BP, high cholesterol, and anti-anxiety currently. These will be reviewed and perhaps altered September 6 unless problems occur, then immediately. I am in close contact with Dr. office.
Another trusted friend is my medical advocate who takes notes & asks questions at appointments.
Both of my daughters are also involved with their designation as POA & medical POA. My financials include them & each are or have visited me this month.
In , AZ, the earliest I can consult with ENT is September 19 & earliest I have appointment with Neurologist is October 21. My insurance will cover these services out of town & I am considering these options.
I do not have “crystals” in my ears.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am glad to hear that you are not alone in this, and you have a trusted friend acting as your medical advocate as well as your daughters to support you.
It sounds like you are on your way to investigating different possible root causes of your symptoms.
Working closely with your primary doctor on your medication regimen is very important.
Another important step you are already taking is working with a vertigo specialist physical therapist.
I would encourage you to follow the plan of care that is recommended by your doctor and your physical therapist, which includes consulting with the ENT in September and Neurologist in October.
I wrote a blog on how to track your vertigo symptoms for analysis and reporting to healthcare providers – you can click here to review that content.
I have a second blog that may be helpful on the possibility of having more than one root cause of vertigo symptoms – you can click here for that blog.
This blog is about strategies for alleviating anxiety that comes along with vertigo.
This blog is about Vertigo Home Remedies that might help.
Finally, if you are having any neck pain, especially at the base of your skull between your ears, I can suggest that you consult with a physical therapist on this Directory to have your upper cervical alignment evaluated for any contribution to the symptoms of vertigo and headache.
Best wishes for a full recovery!
Kim Bell, DPT