“You got rocks in your head!”
That’s right, there are tiny crystals that sit on top of hair-like structures within our ears, called otoliths.
These small rocks detect rates of acceleration such as the takeoff in a plane or when you slam on the brakes in a car.
The inner ear is made up of the utricle, saccule (both which detect up, down, and side to side movements), and three semicircular canals that detect rotational movements of the head.
With rotation of the head, our semicircular canals detect the movement and give the brain feedback of the heads position and orientation relative to the body. Both sides of the ears should work together to give a symmetrical feedback system.
If the fluid in your ears moves around too fast, or keeps spinning while the head stops, you get the feeling of dizziness, or as some would quote “my equilibrium is off”. That’s the vestibular system at work and damages to the ear can certainly affect this.
The body is trying to self-correct and using the eyes to help with balancing you, but the fluid is spinning in conflicting directions, which is why you feel dizzy.
Here’s a quick self-test to determine if your balance is being affected by a vestibular problem
Please take note that if you have known conditions such as vertigo, DO NOT try this. You should do this with the supervision of another individual in the event you have severe dizziness.
The vestibular system gets affected if you have suffered any hearing loss in any way, along with those that have vertigo.
Vertigo can be a serious condition in some individual and should be checked by a qualified healthcare professional that specializes in these conditions such as a vestibular therapist or and ENT.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the balance equation.
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Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.