Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert announced recently that he has been diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). He reported that when he would stand up from a seated position, everything began to spin and subsequently he would fall or sit down. This particular type of vertigo is characterized by the sensation of either yourself or the world around you spinning, and lasting for a few seconds to a few minutes. It is typically brought on by head movements such as rising from a seated position, moving you head in a certain direction, or rolling over in bed.
Symptoms associated with BPPV are imbalance, nausea/vomiting, and visual changes such as objects seeming to jump or moving side to side. Possible causes can include head injury, ear surgery, migraine headaches, transient ischemic attacks or stroke, a growth inside the ear, or a virus within the ear.
BPPV can usually be corrected with special positioning treatments done in the office and exercises at home. However, it is important not to assume that all vertigo is BPPV and to make sure any causes aside from the inner ear are ruled out first. Contact your primary care physician if you begin to experience dizziness. Once cleared, they will then refer you to a hearing and balance specialist to help determine the cause of vertigo and develop the next steps to help correct it.