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Benign Positional Vertigo (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for BPPV

Because BPPV is a benign disorder, one should seek medical care if there are symptoms that may be associated with stroke (CVA) or infection. Stroke symptoms usually last longer than a few minutes and resolve more slowly; however, if a person is not sure of their symptoms, they should seek medical care immediately.

Individuals should activate the emergency medical system (call 911) if there is weakness or numbness of one side of the body, any loss of vision, or difficulty with speech, especially slurring. These are potential signs of a stroke. If there is fever associated with vertigo, there may be an infection as a potential cause of symptoms. While this may be a viral infection, if fever, stiff neck or sensitivity to light is present, there may be a more serious infection (for example, meningitis) and medical care should be accessed.

Meniere's disease describes the triad of vertigo, decreased hearing, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Meniere's disease symptoms are similar to BPPV but typically last longer. In a small number of patients, the constellation of symptoms may be associated with acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor of the inner ear. Individuals with these symptoms should seek medical care.

Vertigo may cause significant nausea and vomiting. Individuals may be unable to take their routine medications or may become dehydrated. Medical care may be needed for these people.

Individuals with vertigo that do not resolve are at higher risk of falling than the normal population and medical care should be accessed if symptoms persist longer than a few minutes.

Because driving is unsafe for people experiencing vertigo, the person should have a friend or family member take a symptomatic person to obtain medical help.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is probably the most common single cause of vertigo in the United States.

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