What is PPPD?

PPPD stands for Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness.

Ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about this information or about your dizziness.

“Dizziness” may be a feeling that your balance is just not as good as it used to be. “Unsteadiness” refers to a sensation of swaying or rocking that you get when you sit or stand. Unsteadiness might also be a sensation of veering off to the side when walking.

“Vertigo” is a feeling of spinning or tilting suddenly. Vertigo is not part of PPPD although some people have PPPD along with other conditions that cause vertigo.

Persistent-postural-perceptual dizziness or PPPD is defined as:

Some things may make your PPPD worse:

“Visually demanding” things may also make your PPPD worse. For example:

PPPD can be related to other problems, or you can have it without having any related health problems. Either way, PPPD can be treated.

Possible Triggers

The exact cause of PPPD is not yet known. However, it often starts after one of these problems:

Treatment

Treatments for PPPD include both physical therapy and medications which can be used alone or together.

If your PPPD is related to another condition, like migraine or anxiety, that condition should also be treated.

Physical Therapy

The kind of physical therapy used to treat PPPD is called habituation therapy or exposure therapy. This therapy exposes you gradually to things that seem to cause your dizziness or make it worse. The idea is that repeated, brief exposure to these things will help you build up a tolerance to them, reducing your dizziness.

You will have a treatment plan and be asked to work through it at home.

It may take a few weeks to see significant improvement and at least 8 to 12 weeks to get the best results from your exercise program.

Medications

Two groups of medications used to treat PPPD include:

Self Care

Take your medications as prescribed. Don’t stop taking them without talking to your health care provider.

Things you can do:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PPPD a psychiatric illness?

No, PPD is not a psychiatric disorder. But behavioral changes can sometimes help. For that reason, you may see a behavioral medicine specialist.

Why do I have PPPD?

We don’t really know why people get PPPD. If you had a related condition, such as, for example, an inner ear infection that gave you vertigo, you may have gotten more sensitive to your own movement and balance. This sensitivity may contribute to your PPPD.

Will I get better?

About four out of five people get better with treatment. Even if your dizziness doesn’t go away completely, treatment may improve it quite a bit.

How long do I need treatment?

Usually the initial period is from 8 to 12 weeks, for both physical therapy and medications. Your treatment plan may last for a year or more.

Do the medications cause side effects?

SSRIs and the SNRIs may cause side effects. Ask your doctor and pharmacist about possible side effects. You may see dizziness listed as a possible side effect of these medications. However, that doesn’t refer to the type of dizziness caused by PPPD. Rarely is PPPD made worse by SSRIs or SNRIs.

How can I be sure that PPPD is what I have?

Research studies show that if you fit the criteria for PPPD describes in the first section of this material and have had a complete evaluation, it is not likely that other diagnoses have been missed.

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