Most people would probably be insulted if somebody said rocks were in their heads.
However, every human has dust-sized, microscopic crystals in their inner ears to help with balance. A displacement of those miniature "rocks" can cause something called "Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo" or BPPV for short. It's the most common form of vertigo and has many possible causes.
"Sports concussions, head injuries, car accidents, sometimes athletes that fall, any kind of trauma to the head can cause the crystals to dislodge. They are also associated with hormonal changes in women," said physical therapist Dr. Kimberly Bell.
BPPV can also be triggered by changes in position, such as bending down to empty the dishwasher, tipping your head high to look up or making other quick head movements.
Jody Steinbauer suffered from vertigo, along with the dizziness and nausea that can accompany it. A doctor ran tests using special goggles to record her eye movements in different positions. The results showed Steinbauer's tiny crystals were out of whack.
"It's very debilitating," she said.
Doctors and physical therapists can employ the Epley maneuver to help reposition the calcium ear crystals into the right place. The treatment involves health care professionals moving a seated person's head in different positions for about 10 to 15 minutes.
"BPPV can be treated successfully in one to two sessions about 90 percent of the time, " said Dr. Bell.
A person suffering from vertigo can also sit in a spinning chair. The strategy works on the same principals as the Epley maneuver and could help doctors and physical therapists better locate crystals in a person's ear.
The rotating chair changed Steinbauer's life in one treatment.
"When you don't have vertigo and you don't have the dizziness, you get your life back, and that's wonderful," she said.
Anybody experiencing constant dizziness without any triggering movements should talk to a physician immediately.
Simple techniques can help stop the spinning from vertigo
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