Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness triggered by changes in head position.  Imbalance after an episode of vertigo (sensation of spinning), nausea, and vomiting are not uncommon.  BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo.  It can be bothersome, but is rarely a serious problem except when a person falls due to vertigo.  Inner ear disorders and prior head injury can make someone more susceptible to BPPV.

In the inner ear, there are tiny organs responsible for helping you maintain your balance and sense of gravity.  These tiny organs contain microscopic calcium “crystals” called otoliths.  When an otolith becomes dislodged, they can move into a part of the inner ear where they are normally not found and cause vertigo with certain head movements.  Crystals can become dislodged after head trauma.  Less common causes include disorders that damage the inner ear or prolonged positioning on your back.  Oftentimes a specific cause cannot be found.

Your doctor, audiologist, or physical therapist may treat you with a series of movements to move the crystals back to their proper position in the inner ear.  A type of therapy called vestibular rehabilitation may also be recommended to treat your condition.