Are Your Dizzy Spells BPPV?

    If you’ve been experiencing dizzy spells recently, it could be that you’re suffering from a very common condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV.

    Understanding BPPV

    Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is a common condition that causes a sensation of dizziness or a false sense of spinning, known as vertigo. Though not life-threatening, BPPV can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, causing discomfort and, in some cases, risking injuries due to falls. Understanding the nature, causes, symptoms, and treatment options of BPPV is crucial for anyone experiencing these disorienting episodes.

    BPPV occurs when tiny particles (calcium carbonate crystals) in the inner ear  dislodge. These particles may find their way into the  parts of the ear responsible for maintaining balance. As these particles move with changes in head position, they stimulate the hair cells inside the semi-circular canals, sending inaccurate signals to the brain about the head’s position, resulting in vertigo or the feeling of dizziness.

    Symptoms of BPPV

    The characteristic symptom of BPPV is feeling dizziness or a head spinning sensation when you change the position of your head. For example, you may feel dizzy when you look up, turn over in bed, tilt your head, or bend down. These episodes usually last for less than a minute and may be accompanied by nausea.

    Despite the disconcerting symptoms, BPPV is considered benign because it doesn’t lead to severe health problems, nor is it progressive. However, it’s important to see a healthcare provider if symptoms persist, as dizziness can be associated with other serious conditions and may lead to injuries due to falls.

    Diagnosing BPPV often involves performing the Dix-Hallpike test, where a healthcare professional changes your head’s position to trigger symptoms while watching your eyes for specific movements known as nystagmus. Another test, the Roll test, is sometimes used if the condition affects the horizontal semi-circular canal.

    How to treat BPPV

    Once diagnosed, BPPV can often be effectively treated with simple manoeuvres like the Epley or Semont manoeuvre, which involve sequential movements of the head to guide the displaced particles back to the utricle. These procedures are usually performed by a doctor like an ENT specialist, but can sometimes be taught for home use by a physiotherapist. In persistent cases, your doctor may order some tests, such as a CT scan, to see if there are any abnormalities.

    Managing BPPV

    Although BPPV can be distressing, the good news is that it’s often transient and can be managed with appropriate diagnosis and treatment. One important thing to keep in mind  during vertigo episodes is to do your best to prevent falls and injuries by moving slowly and deliberately. If you know which head position causes you to feel dizzy, you can navigate and manage these episodes more carefully.

    Where to get treated for BPPV in Hong Kong

    Start with your GP to rule out other concerns. Your GP may be able to treat you with the prescribed manoeuvres or they will refer you to a physiotherapist or an ENT specialist for treatment or further care.

    Central Health –

    OT&P –

    PhysioCentral –


    Joint Dynamics

    Sports Performance Physiotherapy

    The Body Group

    Dr Terry CW Hung, ENT


    You might also like to read:

    Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Health Check in Hong Kong 




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