Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): What You Need to Know

Woman in bed suffering from a BPPV episode

BPPV, a common cause of vertigo, triggers a sudden sensation of spinning or movement within the head. It causes brief episodes of dizziness, typically triggered by specific changes in head position. BPPV symptoms include dizziness, a sense of spinning (vertigo), loss of balance, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. These symptoms can last less than a minute and may come and go, with activities that trigger them varying from person to person.


The inner ear plays a crucial role in BPPV. It contains semicircular canals and otolith organs with fluid and hairlike sensors. These sensors help focus our eyes when our head is in motion and maintain balance. BPPV often occurs when crystals in the otolith organs become dislodged and move into the semicircular canals, making them overly sensitive to head position changes.

BPPV Key Statistics

Prevalence: The prevalence of BPPV varies widely, reported as 11 to 140 per 100,000 people. Cumulatively, the lifetime incidence for the general population is estimated at around 10%. Typically, BPPV presents between the fifth and seventh decades of life.


  • Prevalence in Older Adults: A 2021 study focusing on vertigo in older adults found that 48% of cases were attributed to peripheral vestibular disorders, with 20% of these cases being due to BPPV. This highlights the significant role BPPV plays in balance disorders, particularly in older populations.
  • Incidence and Duration: The lifetime prevalence of BPPV is around 2.4%, with a one-year prevalence of 1.6% and a one-year incidence of 0.6%. The median duration of a BPPV episode is about two weeks. Interestingly, 86% of those affected seek medical consultation, and the condition often leads to interruptions of daily activities or sick leave. However, only 8% of affected individuals receive effective treatment.
  • Recurrence Rates: The recurrence rate of BPPV varies, ranging from 13.7% to 48% for studies with follow-up periods of less than a year. For studies with follow-up periods of two years or more, the recurrence rate ranged from 13.3% to 65%.
  • Demographic Patterns: BPPV prevalence increases with age and is significantly higher in individuals older than 60 years compared to those aged 18 to 39 years. Additionally, BPPV is more common in women than in men across all age groups, with ratios ranging from 2:1 to 3:1 in favour of women.


These statistics illustrate the widespread impact of BPPV, particularly among older adults and women, and highlight the importance of effective diagnosis and treatment to manage this condition.


At Liverpool Hearing Centre, we are able to ascertain which semicircular canal the crystals have found their way into and move them back out again, usually in one or two sessions.