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Benign positional vertigo - aftercare

You may have seen your doctor because you've had benign positional vertigo. It is also called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo and the easiest to treat.

Alternative names

Vertigo - positional - aftercare; Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo - aftercare; BPPV - aftercare

What to expect

Your doctor may have treated your vertigo with the Epley maneuver. These are head movements that correct the inner ear problem that causes BPPV. It usually works quickly.

  • For the rest of the day, avoid bending over.
  • For several days after treatment, avoid sleeping on the side that triggers symptoms.

Most of the time, treatment will cure BPPV. Sometimes vertigo may return after a few weeks. About half the time, BPPV will come back later on. If this happens, you'll need to be treated again. Your doctor may prescribe medicines that can help relieve spinning sensations. However, these medicines often do not work well for treating vertigo.

Self-care

If vertigo returns, remember that you can easily lose your balance, fall down, and hurt yourself. To help keep symptoms from getting worse and keep you safe:

  • Sit down right away when you feel dizzy.
  • To get up from a lying position, slowly sit up and stay seated for a few moments before standing.
  • Make sure you hold on to something when standing.
  • Avoid sudden movements or position changes.
  • You may need a cane or other help walking when you have a vertigo attack.
  • Avoid bright lights, TV, and reading during a vertigo attack. They may make symptoms worse.
  • Avoid activities such as driving, operating heavy machinery, and climbing while you are having symptoms.

To keep your symptoms from getting worse, avoid the positions that trigger it. Your doctor may show you how to treat yourself at home for BPPV. A physical therapist may be able to teach you other exercises to reduce your symptoms.

Symptoms of positional vertigo can cause stress. Make healthy lifestyle choices to help you cope:

  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Don't overeat.
  • Exercise regularly, if possible.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Learn to ease stress by using relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, or progressive muscle relaxation.

When to call the doctor

You should call your doctor if:

  • Symptoms of vertigo return
  • You have new symptoms
  • Your symptoms are getting worse
  • Home treatment doesn't work

References

Bhattacharyya N, Baugh RF, Orvidas L, Barrs D, Bronston LJ, Cass S, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 2008; 139 (5 Suppl 4): S47-S81.

Crane BT, Schessel DA, Nedzelski J, Minor LB. Peripheral vestibular disorders. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 165.

Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82:361-369.

Update Date: 5/30/2014

Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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