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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

This section contains answers to frequently asked questions about this topic. Questions have been suggested by health professionals, website feedback and requests via email.

Is feeling dizzy the same as having vertigo?

Answer

No. Vertigo is just one form of dizziness. You can feel dizzy without having vertigo.

Explanation

If you feel dizzy, it means that you may feel light headed or unsteady. People often feel dizzy before they faint. It can be a reaction to a strong emotion, to standing still for a long time or to standing up too quickly. Dizziness and fainting are very common and in most cases not serious. However, dizziness can be the symptom of a number of different conditions and the side-effect of some medicines, so you should still be checked by your GP if you frequently faint or feel dizzy.

Vertigo is just one specific type of dizziness, which is caused by a problem with your inner ear. If you have vertigo, it means that you have the feeling that you, or things around you, are moving, even when you're still.

Can I drive if I'm diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

Answer

You will need to stop driving if you're diagnosed with BPPV. However, you may be allowed to start driving again once your symptoms are well controlled.

Explanation

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) states that you must stop driving if you're diagnosed with any condition that causes sudden attacks of unprovoked or unexpected dizziness. This includes BPPV. You must tell the DVLA about your condition. If your symptoms are well controlled, the DVLA is likely to allow you to continue driving. Your doctor will be able to tell you when this is the case.

You must be symptom-free and have had your BPPV completely under control for at least a year to be able to have a Group 2 licence (for large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles).

Contact the DVLA through their website, by telephone or by writing for further information.

What will happen when I have the Epley manoeuvre?

Answer

During the Epley manoeuvre, your doctor, or another trained specialist, moves your head and body into a number of different positions. It's considered to be safe and effective.

Explanation

When you have the Epley manoeuvre, you will be asked to sit upright at the end of a table. Your doctor or physiotherapist will lay you down on your back and tilt your head back over the edge of the table and to one side. He or she will then slowly rotate your head towards the other side, finally tilting your whole body and head over, until you’re almost facing the floor. You will then be brought back up to a sitting position.

You're likely to experience symptoms of vertigo as you go through the different positions – this shows that the manoeuvre is working.

The technique shouldn't feel painful. However, if you have problems with pain in your neck, you may not be able to do all the necessary movements. The technique can make some people feel sick because of the vertigo. After you have the Epley manoeuvre, you should ask someone to accompany you home. You may feel unsteady and should not drive.

The Epley manoeuvre is effective in stopping the symptoms of BPPV. However, it doesn't work for everyone.

You should not try to do this procedure by yourself because it may cause harm if carried out unsupervised.

 

Produced by Dylan Merkett, Bupa Health Information Team, October 2012.

For our main content on this topic, see Information.

For sources and links to further information, see Resources.

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  • This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the about our health information page.

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