Does the room spin when you lie down in bed or dip your head forward or backward? If so, your crystals might be loose. But don’t fret – it’s not as bad (or bizarre) as it may sound.
Don’t knock the ear rocks
Tiny crystals in your inner ear can dislodge and trigger benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), one of the most common types of vertigo. Typically, the dislodgement happens if you have struck your head or had an inner ear infection, but can also occur from repetitive movements that jostle the head (like on an exercise machine) or from lying in an inclined position for a while (like at the dentist).
“Certain eye or head movements, such as looking over your shoulder or rolling over in bed, cause the loose crystals to move around inside the ear, which in turn causes symptoms such as dizziness or spinning, lightheadedness, imbalance and in some cases, nausea and vomiting,” said Debbie Headley, PT, DPT, OSC, CLT, physical therapist and clinical manager for Baptist Rehabilitation Services Jacksonville.
Vertigo? More like verti-NO
BPPV is not a serious health issue and symptoms generally resolve after a brief time and with head stability. However, vertigo can be unpleasant and jarring, particularly if the episodes occur for more than a few weeks.
Fortunately, there is a non-invasive way to get the crystals back where they belong once your doctor has ruled out other causes of vertigo.
“A trained professional such as a physical therapist or ear, nose and throat doctor can treat BPPV by performing a repositioning maneuver in an office setting,” said Headley. “The series of movements led by the provider move the crystals around the semi-circular interior of the ear and land back where they belong.”
The treatment may require a few visits to be fully effective, and the provider may teach you how to perform the maneuver on your own at home.
Baptist Rehabilitation Services can help treat a variety of balance disorders, including BPPV. To learn more about how physical therapy can benefit you, visit BaptistJax.com/Rehab or talk to your primary care physician or ear, nose and throat doctor.