What time of the year is BPPV more prevalent?

Among the peripheral vestibular disorders, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is characterized by episodes of vertigo roundabout when the head is moved.

A recent study by Korpon et al 2019 in Am J Otolaryngol examined barometric pressure and the incidence of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  The aim of this study was to determine the temporal relationship between monthly barometric pressure levels and incidence of BPPV.

The following is what the authors found:

Of all the variables studied (compared to temperature, humidity, tree/mold/grass/ragweed pollen), barometric pressure demonstrates the strongest statistically significant positive correlation, where every one unit increase in barometric pressure leads to an expected increase of 6.1 diagnoses (r = 0.66 [95% CI 0.14–0.90], p = 0.0131).

BPPV diagnoses were observed to be lowest during the summer months (June through August) with a moderate to strong, statistically significant positive correlation between BPPV diagnoses and barometric pressure observed throughout the year.

Therefore, as a clinician or patient, you may find that BPPV diagnosis occur more often in the first of the year (say January – May), which, from this study, is most likely related to barometric pressure (compared to sunlight levels, pollen, etc).

As patients, what time of the year does your BPPV “flare up”?

The authors go on to discuss correlation between BPPV and migraine, which do correlate with barometric pressure.  Recently, pain and barometric pressure has just been shown to be related on an individual level (Fagerlund et al 2019). Even though the research is not strong with correlations of the weather, I would ask your patients what they think!  Most do!

How is BPPV diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis of BPPV is clinical and is done mainly through maneuvers that determine what canal and what type of BPPV patients present. Treatment success depends on identifying and specifying the type of BPPV and canal involved. An accurate diagnosis and choice of appropriate maneuver are crucial to the success of the treatment. We consider it an important treatment option as it is an effective, reliable and non-invasive therapeutic approach.

Some people have tried different maneuvers and tests on themselves that they have found online. In some instances, this can be okay; but in others, you could potentially float the otoconia fragments from canal to another, which can then give you different symptoms. This of course, is not as successful as a true canalith repositioning procedure performed by a vestibular specialist.

This treatment is effective in resolving symptoms, both in short and long term. There are some individuals who need some follow-up sessions over time for just canalith repositioning or the procedures plus vestibular rehabilitation. Talk with your therapist to determine best approach to help you the most.

If you are experiencing dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness or lightheadiness, contact us to make an evaluation so we can find out the cause and perform procedures to help you!