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Benign positional vertigo - aftercare

Description

You may have seen your health care provider because you have 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; Dizziness - positional vertigo

What to Expect

Your health care provider may have treated your vertigo with the Epley maneuver. These are head movements that correct the inner ear problem that causes BPPV. After you go home:

  • For the rest of the day, DO NOT bend over.
  • For several days after treatment, DO NOT sleep on the side that triggers symptoms.
  • Follow any other specific instructions your provider gave you.

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 will need to be treated again. Your provider may prescribe medicines that can help relieve spinning sensations. But, these medicines often do not work well for treating that actual 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 to help 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.
  • Ask your provider about using a cane or other walking aid 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 provider 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.

Having BPPV can be stressful. Make healthy lifestyle choices to help you cope:

  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. DO NOT 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 provider if:

  • Symptoms of vertigo return
  • You have new symptoms
  • Your symptoms are getting worse
  • Home treatment does not work

References

Crane BT, Minor LB. Peripheral vestibular disorders. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 165.

Millar JL, Schubert MC, Shepard NT. Vestibular and balance rehabilitation. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 168.

Review Date:5/21/2016
Reviewed By:Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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