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Vestibular Disorders: BPPV

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Vestibular Disorders: BPPV
Kristen Janky, Au.D., Ph.D., CCC-A, Vestibular Audiologist

A vestibular disorder is just what it sounds like, so a disorder that has specifically affected the vestibular system in the inner ear. The most common type is something called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and because that’s hard to say we call it BPPV for short.

What happens with BPPV is that we all have these crystals that are in our ears and usually they are adhered together. Those crystals can become loose and they can migrate into a part of the inner ear where they are not supposed to be and it makes us sensitive to gravitational changes, meaning the patients will have problems when laying down to bed, getting out of bed, bending over to tie their shoes, looking up to pick something up off the shelf and they will get very very brief dizziness that just last for a few second and as soon as they stop that activity then the symptoms go back to normal.

Who is at risk for BPPV?

Primarily it is adults. Vestibular disorders are fairly rare in children with the exception of children who are born with hearing loss. Women are more susceptible than men and we are more likely to see women have BPPV once they have gone through menopause or will often times occur in individuals who have suffered a head injury where they have hit their head and that’s what sort of puts those crystals in motion.

How is BPPV treated?

For BPPV or when the crystals are loose we typically put people through a series of exercises to get the crystals back into the place where they need to go. That treatment is very effective and that often times as soon as the patients receive the treatments or exercise they feel better.

Benign Paraoxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, is the most common disorder of the inner ear's vestibular system. Kristen Janky, Au.D, Ph.D., CCC-A​, vestibular audiologist with Boys Town National Research Hospital, explains BPPV, who is most at risk for BPPV, and how BPPV is treated.

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