Benign Positional Vertigo: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

In benign positional vertigo, the sufferer develops a sense of spinning that comes on suddenly. This usually happens when one is moving the head. Those affected may have the feeling that the world is spinning around them. Vision problems, like the perception that things are moving, can accompany the vertigo, as well as blurring of vision. Benign positional vertigo usually lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other symptoms that can occur include loss of balance, nausea, vomiting, and hearing loss.

Causes of benign positional vertigo

Benign positional vertigo is caused by a problem in the inner ear, within the fluid-filled tubes called semicircular canals that help regulate balance. Typically, a small calcium particle in the semicircular canals disrupts the signaling to the brain about balance and body position. The risk of benign positional vertigo may increase following head trauma or inner ear infection (labrynthitis).

Related Symptoms & Signs


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2017
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