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Positional Vertigo

What is Positional Vertigo?

Positional Vertigo, also known as “Benign Positional Vertigo”, “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo” or “BPPV”, is caused by tiny calcium particles that have broken free from the balance detectors in the inner ear and are floating in the inner ear fluid. These “floaters” become trapped in the balance canals of the inner ear and cause them to become overly sensitive to head movements. They cause a spinning sensation (vertigo) that is brought on by head movements or changes in position and typically lasts for several seconds. The spinning dizziness is especially noticeable when the head is turned in a particular direction, such as when getting out of bed in the morning or rolling over in bed. The vertigo usually subsides as the crystals settle to the bottom of the inner ear from gravity but the feeling of being off balance or light headed may persist. The dizzy spells of Positional Vertigo may be debilitating and are sometimes accompanied by blurred vision, nausea and vomiting.

Medical Treatment of Positional Vertigo

Positional Vertigo may be treated with repositioning maneuvers and exercises, such as Semont Exercises, in which the head is held in a series of different positions to allow the floaters to fall out of the balance canal to another part of the inner ear to lessen their effect. Additionally, Balance Exercises and Vestibular Rehabilitation (physical therapy for the balance system) may be helpful in reducing the dizziness and effects of Positional Vertigo.

Surgical Treatment of Positional Vertigo

If medical treatment and balance exercises do not provide relief from the vertigo, a procedure called Inner Ear Perfusion can help reduce or eliminate the dizziness.

Perfusion of the Inner Ear with reduces the sensitivity of the balance receptors in the inner ear so that the patient’s dizzy spells are greatly reduced even though the “floaters” may still be there. Inner Ear Perfusion is easily performed as a simple outpatient procedure in which a small amount of medication is injected through a tiny hole in the ear drum into the middle ear space once daily for three consecutive days.


Dizziness is a symptom which can be used to describe many different sensations depending on the patient who is experiencing it. These symptoms can be brought on by a number of different disorders. Patients often describe their dizziness as being lightheaded, feeling unbalanced, and/or experiencing a spinning sensation. These are all commonly referred to as dizziness but each can arise from completely different causes. Metabolic, neuromuscular, and cerebrovascular disorders as well as tumors or trauma are common causes for dizziness but each is experienced in a different way and has its own different method of treatment. This is why it is imperative when seeking help from a physician about dizziness, you must see someone who is specialized enough to discern between the different types of dizziness and identify the primary cause before treatment can be rendered.

Shea Clinic Can Help!

Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat is world renowned for its otologic expertise, but we are also a full service Ear, Nose and Throat clinic. Whether it’s a minor ear infection, a serious case of dizziness, ringing in your ears, hearing loss, chronic sinus problems or allergies, or a need for facial cosmetic surgery, the Shea Clinic Ear Nose & Throat doctors can help.

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