BPPV can occur spontaneously, that is, without a real cause. It is commonly seen in the elderly without an underlying cause identified. It can also occur after any type of even minor head trauma, even as small as a violent sneeze or hitting your head on a cabinet, and with major head trauma or after a concussion. It can also occur a long time after another inner ear problem such as labyrinthitis or Ménière’s disease.
How Will My Doctor Know If I Have BPPV?
Your doctor or other healthcare professional will ask you questions about your dizziness and vertigo, and, with careful listening, can often distinguish between BPPV and other types of dizziness. After a thorough examination of your ears, nose, throat, and neck, the doctor will perform a test on you that is called a Dix-Hallpike Maneuver.
You will be seated on a flat surface and then brought down into positions that can provoke the vertigo experienced in BPPV. Another test that looks for BPPV of the horizontal (and not posterior) balance canal is the supine roll test, where you are already lying on your back and your head is moved from side to side. Once the side of the vertigo is identified, the doctor may either immediately offer you a treatment, or may refer you to a specialist (otolaryngologist or vestibular physical therapist) who can offer you that treatment.