Vertigo: Causes and Treatment

By Stephen Chandler, MD |09 July 2021|

When I say vertigo you might think of two things: the first being the critically acclaimed film by Alfred Hitchcock starring Jimmy Stewart, and the other being the sudden sensation of spinning. Interestingly, vertigo itself is not an illness but a side effect. There are a vast number of possible causes of vertigo. For this discussion, we will focus on benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), causes, and treatments.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a common cause of positional vertigo and results in brief episodes of instability and dizziness. These episodes are usually caused by sudden changes in head position, usually laying down. They can range from mild to severe, and sometimes dangerous if they increase the chance of fall injury.

BPPV is typically idiopathic, meaning that it arises spontaneously without a specific cause. Potential causes, however, include trauma to the head and inner ear which can affect the body’s ability to maintain balance. The inner ear contains crystals suspended in fluid that monitor your head’s movement in relation to gravity — damage or displacement of these crystals can cause BPPV. 

Symptoms of BPPV are usually caused by lying supine with the head turned either to the right or the left and include dizziness, a sense that your surroundings are spinning (vertigo), a loss of balance, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms then it may be time to visit a doctor. Doctor’s will do a series of physical tests to determine the cause of your vertigo, but if none can be found then imaging may be needed. 

Thankfully, BPPV usually goes away on it’s own, but sometimes treatments are required in more serious cases. The most effective clinical treatment is the Epley Maneuver, a Canalith repositioning procedure which consists of specific head movements to move the displaced crytals back into place. 

Dr. Stephen Chandler is a practicing Otolaryngologist in Montgomery, Alabama and owner of Sandler Scientific, LLC, makers of CompleteRinse®. To schedule a visit with Dr. Chandler call 334-834-7221 Learn more at Complete Rinse is available on Amazon and at