Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, occurs when small “crystals” made from calcium carbonate become loose. These crystals should sit on a bed of hair cells in an organ called the utricle. However, if the crystals are knocked off, they may end up in our semi-circular canals. These canals are sensitive to movements of our head. When the crystals are loose in the canals, they cause incorrect messages to be sent to our brain, resulting in dizziness, and a sensation that the room is spinning, or moving.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many crystals do I have?
It is estimated that we have around 100,000 crystals in each ear.
- How big are the crystals?
Each of the crystals are about five times smaller than a grain of sand.
- Will my crystals grow back?
Unfortunately, we are born with a finite amount of crystals, and we cannot regenerate them.
- What are the risk factors for getting BPPV?
The main cause of BPPV is a bump to the head, which causes the crystals to be knocked loose. It can also be caused by an infection of the inner ear, along with any chemical changes in the body. It has been linked with diabetes, thyroid changes, and even high stress. However, the word paroxysmal in BPPV, means that sometimes it happens, and we don’t know why.
- Will my BPPV come back?
Once someone has had BPPV, there is a 50% change that it will re-occur. This is because the structure of the utricle has become weaker, and becomes more prone to new crystals breaking off.
- Is there anything I can do to prevent it from coming back?
The main thing is to avoid any kind of head trauma. However you can also reduce the chance of a re-occurrence by ensuring normal calcium and vitamin D levels.