BPPV, also known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, is the most common type of vertigo seen among adults. BPPV causes sudden, unexplained bouts of dizziness, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, & nystagmus(abnormal jerking movement of the eyes), along with occasional hearing loss, tinnitus, & a sensation of the surroundings spinning or moving out of control.
BPPV is a form of peripheral vertigo, which is caused by a problem with the inner ear. BPPV is caused by tiny calcium deposits inside the middle ear, breaking loose from their original position & depositing inside the semicircular canal of the inner ear.
These crystals are motion-sensitive, thus they roll around with every head movement on the surface of the inner ear. In the process, they activate the tiny hair on the surface of the inner ear, thus making them responsive to any head movements & changes in the position of the head. When they are in their original position inside the middle ear, they don’t cause any problems with the way the body maintains balance & its position in space.
BPPV is quite a common problem in adults, accounting for about 80% of all cases of vertigo & dizziness.
BPPV is also the reason why most adults visit their doctors. Although BPPV is not as common in children, it does sometimes happen. In these cases, it’s usually due to a head injury, concussion, illness, infection, or any other congenital disease.
In some cases, no specific cause is known, while in other cases, a deformity in the ear structure is usually to blame.
Your child might not present with the exact symptoms of BPPV. It is also possible that you miss some BPPV symptoms in your child, either due to their young age or otherwise playful nature. Although BPPV symptoms are different for every individual, & the same goes for your child too, there are some symptoms that are similar across all people going through BPPV.
These common symptoms include:
- A spinning sensation or a feeling that the room is moving around uncontrollably
- Migraine headaches
- Photosensitivity or sound sensitivity
- Inability to maintain a straight walk or gait
- General unsteadiness
- Feeling off-balance
- Nystagmus(an abnormal, jerking movement of the eyes)
- Hearing loss
- tinnitus(a ringing, buzzing, roaring, or hissing sound in the ears)
In some cases, earache & fever is also common, especially if the BPPV is due to an ongoing ear infection or illness. Dry mouth & sweating, feeling uncomfortable & hot in otherwise normal temperatures is also common in children.
BPPV causes in children:
BPPV in children can occur with or without an inner ear issue, although that is usually the most common cause. Since the inner ear helps maintain the body’s balance & position in space, an inner ear disorder causes problems with the way the vestibular system sends balance-related signals to the brain. This causes misfires and sensations of movement even when there is none.
Most of these inner ear problems occur due to some minor illnesses or ailments, & usually resolve quickly with proper treatment. In such cases, when the underlying issue resolves, BPPV associated with those also resolves.
There are also, however, some other conditions that also contribute to BPPV & dizziness in children. In these cases, your child’s vertigo symptoms are usually more severe & persistent. In addition, you might also find that these dizziness & vertigo attacks are usually triggered by certain head movements and changes in the position of the head. Your child may also experience nystagmus(abnormal eye movements), nausea, vomiting bouts, & motion sickness in the duration of vertigo attacks.
There are some other common causes of BPPV in children. These include:
- Middle ear infection: Middle ear infection is the most common cause of BPPV in children. In most cases, BPPV in children is caused by a middle ear ‘effusion’. In this, a thick fluid builds up behind the eardrum, which causes issues with the way the vestibular system functions & sends balance-related signals to the brain.
- Inner ear infections: Certain inner ear infections like labyrinthitis & Vestibular Neuritis are also known to cause BPPV in children.
- Concussion & any other kind of head trauma or head injuries are also possible causes of BPPV in children.
- Sometimes, there are tiny bone-like particles floating around in the inner ear fluid. These can be either due to an infection or a concussion due to an injury. These particles can also cause BPPV in children.
- Migraine headaches are also known to cause BPPV in children. Some children prone to migraine headaches are also more likely to get vestibular migraines later on in life.
- Low Blood Pressure
- Certain autoimmune disorders like Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, & juvenile arthritis.
- Visual dysfunctions like an excessive difference in prescription between the eyes and a congenital eye movement disorder.
- A brain tumor
- Meniere’s Disease
- Aspirin & other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
BPPV treatment for children:
BPPV in children is treated the same way as BPPV in adults. Your doctor will diagnose your child as having BPPV or any other type of vertigo in their office with the help of some specialized vertigo tests.
Based on your child’s exact diagnosis & medical history, your doctor will likely prescribe you the following BPPV treatment methods:
- Vertigo medicines like the Meclizine tablet, vertin tablet, stugeron forte tablet, stemetil MD tablet, & more. Based on your child’s age & exact medical condition, the dosages might be reduced or adjusted.
- Antihistamines to prevent nausea & dizziness.
- Anti-anxiety medications to prevent undue anxiety & anxiety-induced dizziness.
- Anti-nausea medications
- Anti-dizziness medications
- Migraine headache medications
- Supplements & vitamins to strengthen your child’s immune system & ward off any additional deficiencies
- Antibiotics or antiviral medications in case the BPPV symptoms are being caused by a bacterial or viral infection
- Vertigo exercises like the Epley Maneuver, the Brandt-Daroff exercises, the Semont-maneuver, & the half-somersault maneuver to relieve dizziness & other vertigo-like symptoms. Your doctor can either perform these maneuvers themselves in their office or instruct you adequately to help your child perform these at home.
- Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is another BPPV treatment option for children who suffer from chronic, long-lasting vertigo. It basically helps train your child to compensate for the losses in the vestibular system by training them to rely more on the other organ systems involved in balance like the eyes & the leg muscles.
In addition, getting 8 hours of sleep every day, drinking plenty of water, & eating a rich, healthy, fulfilling diet are all good BPPV treatment home remedies for your child. Your child should also avoid any movements that trigger their vertigo attacks.