By Vestibular Physiotherapist, Vanessa Simpson
* Dizziness is the most common presenting complaint to GP’s in people over 75 years of age, with a significant proportion of those people having Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).
* 10% of the population will have BPPV by 80 years of age.
* The frequency of falls and BPPV is linked.
* 69% of people with BPPV will restrict head movement to avoid triggering symptoms, 24% will give up driving, 18% will avoid leaving home and 37% of workers will have time off work.
The great news is, BPPV is incredibly treatable and people can expect to have 100% symptom resolution if managed correctly.
What is BPPV?
It is in inner ear condition where calcium carbonate particles called otoconia fall into one of three semicircular canals in the inner ear. Because the otoconia are not supposed to be in the semicircular canals, it causes an over stimulation of the vestibular (inner ear) nerve. The brain therefore receives incorrect information about where the head is in space causing vertigo (spinning sensation), dizziness, nausea and/or imbalance.
How is it tested?
An experienced vestibular physiotherapist will be able to test you for BPPV. The tests involve placing your head in specific triggering positions momentarily, while looking for a very characteristic reflex eye movement called nystagmus. The characteristics and direction of the nystagmus will allow your therapist to accurately diagnose which side and which semicircular canal is affected.
Can you treat BPPV?
Yes! BPPV is extremely treatable and should never be left. In many instances it will take as little as 1-2 treatments to resolve. The treatment involves procedures called particle repositioning manoeuvres. There are various manoeuvres which can be performed and they all involve turning the head in precise directions to move the otoconia out of the affected canal. Your vestibular physiotherapist will be able to determine the correct procedure depending on the type of BPPV you have.
I think I have BPPV- what should I do?
Book an appointment with our vestibular physiotherapist Vanessa Simpson, who will be able to complete a full vestibular assessment and discuss treatment options with you. You do not need a GP referral to do this.