Some people feel dizzy and nauseous when they change positions. Exciting new research shows that many will have a condition called benign positional vertigo that can be cured by surgery or special exercises.

If you feel dizzy or nausea when you change position, move from lying to sitting, turn when asleep or bending over, check with your doctor who will probably order tests for nerve damage: an MRI to look for a tumor, HbA1C for diabetes, Vitamin B12 for pernicious anemia, Lyme test, and so forth. He will also look for blocked arteries by measuring blood flow through the arteries in your neck and a electrocardiogram looking for irregular heart beats. The odds are overwhelming that the tests will be normal and you will have a condition called benign positional vertigo.

No medication is effective. Usually you will get better by yourself within six weeks. However, many people do not get better. The dizziness is caused by damage to the balance sensor in your middle ear. A recently described 15-minute office procedure called canalith repositioning procedure is effective. Special exercises taught by a trained physical therapist can also help to cure benign positional vertigo. The therapist will teach you how to move from sitting to lying on your stomach. Then she will have you turn your head toward one side until you feel dizzy. Then roll over to the other side and sit up, tilting your head down and so forth.

By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News

1) N Gordon. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. British Journal of Clinical Practice 50: 4 (JUN 1996): 208-210.

2) W Waespe. Benign positional vertigo and nystagmus of the horizontal semicircular canal. Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift 127: 8 (FEB 22 1997): 287-295. Benign paroxysmal vertigo and nystagmus are induced not only by the posterior but also by the horizontal semicircular canal.