Curly woman touching her forehead while feeling dizzy

Why Am I So Dizzy?

Kate Amsden, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Have you ever turned over in bed or sat up and suddenly felt like the world was spinning around you? If you have experienced this lasting sensation, known as vertigo, you know how scary it can be and how much it disrupts your ability to do basic activities. While there are many possible causes of vertigo, one of the more common types is Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo (BPPV).

BPPV occurs when a small crystal dislodges from the inner ear and lands in one of the fluid-filled semicircular canals of the ear. In a normal situation, the movement of the fluid helps to communicate how far and how fast our heads or bodies are turning. In other words, the sensation we get from our inner ear matches what our eyes see. For someone with BPPV, that crystal continues moving in the inner ear canal even after they have stopped turning, sending their brain the signal that they are spinning.

Why does BPPV happen?

The exact cause of BPPV is not always known; however, there are several factors that can contribute to it. This includes a head trauma or surgery that knocks some of the ear crystals loose, high cholesterol, and low levels of vitamin D – something many of us Seattleites struggle with in the dark winter months! Most often, BPPV starts very suddenly without warning: patients simply wake up with that scary spinning sensation. Let’s just say that this is not a great start to the day. 

What can I do if I have BPPV?

If you find yourself suddenly feeling dizzy and like your head is spinning, you should get evaluated by a healthcare professional as there are multiple causes of dizziness. 

If your symptoms are consistent with BPPV, your PT treatment will begin with a specific series of movements to move the floating crystal from your ear canal. These movements are called Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers. A word of caution, though these maneuvers can be found on the internet, it is always best to have a skilled professional perform them. In other words, come see us:) The best sequence to do depends on which of the six inner ear canals has the floating crystal, which we can find out with a thorough evaluation. For some people, this is all it takes to get back to feeling 100%. In other cases, our brains may require further training to treat the residual dizziness.

Avant Physical Therapy has multiple providers who are experienced in evaluating and treating vestibular dysfunction, including BPPV. We know how debilitating vertigo can be, and are ready to help get to the root of your dizziness and get you back on your feet without the world spinning around you. If you find yourself suddenly feeling dizzy, call us at 206.686.4073 or email to see one of our vestibular specialists.