Can High Blood Pressure and Diabetes Increase the Risk for BPPV?

By: Mapula Mokwena (Clinical Audiologist)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is a common inner ear problem that causes a sudden sensation of spinning or dizziness. Often triggered by certain head movements, BPPV is a result of debris that has collected within a part of the inner ear. But what many may not consider is how underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can impact the onset and severity of BPPV. High blood pressure and diabetes are significant health issues that affect millions of people worldwide. By understanding their potential to impact the onset and management of BPPV, individuals can take steps to reduce their risks and manage the condition effectively.

Blood Pressure as a Factor in BPPV

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a chronic condition in which the force of blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems such as heart disease. Several studies have suggested that individuals with high blood pressure may be more prone to developing BPPV, perhaps due to the notion that inner ear vessels are affected by hypertension which can lead to bleeding or reduced blood flow. 

Managing High Blood Pressure and BPPV

Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, and a heart-healthy diet can help lower and manage high blood pressure, reducing the risk and severity of BPPV episodes. Medications to control hypertension, if prescribed, should be taken as directed and regularly monitored. It is important to address any health concerns with your healthcare provider, as managing blood pressure may contribute to fewer episodes of BPPV or at the very least, make them
more manageable.

Diabetes and Vertigo

Diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, influences how your body converts food into energy. It can cause high blood sugar, which then leads to complications like neuropathy, where the long-term effects include damage to the inner ear nodes. People with diabetes can experience a variety of balance disorders, including an increased risk for BPPV. The connection between diabetes and vertigo is complex, as the condition can cause damage to the small nerves in the inner ear. 

Managing Diabetes-Related Vertigo 

Managing diabetes involves maintaining a healthy blood sugar level through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and medication. Control is especially crucial when dealing with symptoms like vertigo, as unstable blood sugars may exacerbate balance issues, and in turn, increase the severity of BPPV.

Prevention and Supportive Strategies

The best way to manage potentially increasing your risk for BPPV is proactivity. Screening for these chronic health concerns and treating them effectively is a crucial preventive measure. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing your blood pressure and diabetes effectively can significantly reduce your chances of developing BPPV or make it more manageable if you already have it. 

Several balance exercises and movements can be beneficial in reducing the recurrence of BPPV episodes. These manoeuvres are often prescribed by a healthcare professional and focus on readjusting the particles in the inner ear.

If you find yourself with concerns about the link between these conditions and BPPV, or if you’ve been diagnosed with BPPV and are concerned about developing these conditions, reach out to healthcare professionals for guidance tailored to your specific situation. Engaging in a proactive approach, armed with knowledge and support, can make a substantial difference in your health and well-being.