Dear Dr. Roach: I was recently prescribed a CPAP machine for mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnea. I have a history of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and wondered if the pressure of the CPAP might cause the vertigo to kick in. L.B.
Answer: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is believed to be caused by calcium crystals in the organ of balance, the semicircular canals, in the inner ear. The usual presenting symptom is vertigo, commonly described as the room spinning, often associated with nausea. People who have had this type of vertigo once are at risk for getting it again.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by relaxation of the soft tissues of the upper palate and the back of the throat, preventing proper breathing. While it is commonly associated with being overweight, OSA can happen in people of any weight. Continuous positive airway pressure, the CPAP machine, helps to keep the airway open and allow for unobstructed breathing.