Vertigo Research & Studies

Because vertigo usually occurs as a result of a disorder in the vestibular system (i.e., the inner ear, vestibular nerve, brainstem, and cerebellum), the focus of ongoing research is to determine the precise connection between the structures of the inner ear and the brain.

The relationship between vertigo, eye movements, and body position is being studied to provide a better understanding of balance disorders and improve methods of diagnosis (e.g., computer-controlled testing systems), treatment (e.g., certain exercises), and rehabilitation.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), recent studies suggest that the vestibular system may play a significant role in regulating blood pressure. This research may provide important information about how to manage low blood pressure that occurs as the result of a change in position (condition called orthostatic hypotension) and also improve the understanding of balance disorders.

Other studies are focused on determining how the vestibular system is able to differentiate between types of movement (e.g., downward movement, side-to-side movement). Genetic studies also are being conducted to determine how certain genes affect vestibular system function and how inherited neurological conditions and hearing loss affect balance.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common type of vertigo caused by the accumulation of tiny particles in fluid in the semicircular canals of the inner ear. These three canals are used by the brain to detect head movement and help maintain balance and equilibrium. Patients with BPPV experience dizziness during certain movements.

A new treatment for BPPV, called the Comprehensive Positional Management (CPM) system, is being studied in research and clinical settings. In this procedure, the exact location of the particles is determined and the patient is positioned manually to help move the particles out of the semicircular canal.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Mar 2008

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2014