Headache during a cluster of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo attacks

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2014 Dec;123(12):875-80. doi: 10.1177/0003489414539921. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Objective: In view of patients' recurrent complaints, we were interested in investigating the frequency and headache characteristics in patients during a benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) cluster.

Methods: Patients with BPPV treated at an outpatient dizziness clinic were interviewed about the presence of headache; its quality, localization, severity, time course, and aggravating and alleviating factors; and headache-related disability during their present vertigo cluster.

Results: Among 152 patients with BPPV, 53 (34.8%) reported headache associated with vertigo. According to The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 8 (15%) patients could be classified as migraine without aura (1.1), 14 (26%) were classified as infrequent episodic tension-type headache associated with pericranial tenderness (2.1.1), 23 (43%) were classified as infrequent episodic tension-type headache without pericranial tenderness (2.1.2), 6 (11%) had cervicogenic headache (11.2.1), and in 2 (4%) patients, the headache could not be specified (14.2). Fifty-two age-matched BPPV patients without headache did not differ in history of headaches, BPPV history, or background diseases. The distribution of canal involvement and number of treatment maneuvers was also similar in both groups.

Conclusion: Headache is frequent in BPPV. The most common is tension-type headache, followed by migraine and cervicogenic headache. Head pain seems to be an independently associated epiphenomenon of BPPV that can worsen patients' distress.

Keywords: BPPV; headache.

MeSH terms

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo / complications*
  • Female
  • Headache / classification
  • Headache / complications*
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Time Factors