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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) - Symptoms

The main symptom of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning, whirling, or tilting. This sensation is called vertigo.

It is important to understand the difference between vertigo and dizziness. People often use those two terms as if they meant the same thing. But they are different symptoms, and they may point to different problems.

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  • Vertigo is the feeling that you are spinning or the world is spinning around you. It happens when your body's balance sensory systems disagree about what kind of movement they sense. You may find it hard to walk or stand. You may even lose your balance and fall. If your vertigo is bad enough, you may also have nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness is not a feeling that you are spinning. It is a woozy or unsteady feeling.

To find out whether your vertigo is caused by BPPV, your doctor will want to find out what causes it, how bad it is, and how long it lasts. With BPPV:

  • Tilting the head, looking up or down, rolling over in bed, or getting in and out of bed causes vertigo.
  • It begins a few seconds after you move your head.
  • It usually lasts less than a minute. The spinning sensation may be mild, or it may be bad enough to cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Vertigo becomes less noticeable each time you repeat the same movement. After 3 or 4 repeats, the movement may no longer cause vertigo. Several hours may pass before the same movement again causes vertigo.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: December 19, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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