Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
You are reading a NORD Rare Disease Report Abstract. NORD’s full collection of reports on over 1200 rare diseases is available to subscribers (click here for details). We are now also offering two full rare disease reports per day to visitors on our Web site.
NORD is very grateful to Terry D. Fife, M.D, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Barrow Neurological Institute, for the assistance in the preparation of this report.
Synonyms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- No subdivisions found.
Benign paroxysmal position vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder characterized by brief, recurrent bouts of vertigo. Vertigo is a sensation of spinning, whirling or turning. Individuals often feel as if the room is moving or spinning and they can lose their balance and have difficulty standing or walking. During the bouts of vertigo, affected individuals often have abnormal eye movements as well (nystagmus). BPPV is most often triggered by rapid, sometimes unexpected changes in head position. The severity of the disorder varies. In some cases, it only causes mild symptoms, while in others it can potentially cause more severe, even debilitating symptoms. BPPV may disappear on its own only to return weeks or months later. Most affected individuals can be easily and effectively treated by non-invasive methods such as canalith (or canalolith) repositioning maneuvers. However, BPPV may recur even after effectively treated. BPPV is believed to be caused by the displacement of small calcium carbonate crystals within the inner ear. These tiny crystals become dislodged from their normal location and fall into one of three semicircular canals, which are tiny, interconnected, looped tubes that serve to detect movements of the head and that play a role in helping the body maintain balance. The exact, underlying cause of this displacement is not always known (idiopathic). Recurrences are possible because additional calcium can become dislodged. The treatment maneuvers remove the calcium but do not prevent the shedding of additional calcium crystals in the future.
BPPV has been identified as a clinical entity since the late 1800s. The term benign means that the disorder is not progressive and is not considered serious. Although labeled benign, BPPV can disrupt a person's daily activities and affect quality of life. The term paroxysmal means that episodes arise suddenly and often unpredictably. The term positional means the disorder is contingent on a change of the position of the head. BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Resources
Please note that some of these organizations may provide information concerning certain conditions potentially associated with this disorder.
NORD Member Organizations:
(To become a member of NORD, an organization must meet established criteria and be approved by the NORD Board of Directors. If you're interested in becoming a member, please contact Susan Olivo, Membership Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The information in NORD’s Rare Disease Database is for educational purposes only. It should never be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional. NORD’s reports provide a brief overview of rare diseases. For more specific information, we encourage you to contact your personal physician or the agencies listed as “Resources” on this report.
The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) web site, its databases, and the contents thereof are copyrighted by NORD. No part of the NORD web site, databases, or the contents may be copied in any way, including but not limited to the following: electronically downloading, storing in a retrieval system, or redistributing for any commercial purposes without the express written permission of NORD. Permission is hereby granted to print one hard copy of the information on an individual disease for your personal use, provided that such content is in no way modified, and the credit for the source (NORD) and NORD’s copyright notice are included on the printed copy. Any other electronic reproduction or other printed versions is strictly prohibited.
Copyright 1987, 1989, 1998, 2000, 2011, 2014
NORD's Rare Disease Information Database is copyrighted and may not be published without the written consent of NORD.