As a Vestibular physical therapist, one who treats people with dizziness/vertigo/imbalance, I often hear, “Crystals? In my ears?” from many patients with dizziness. Yes, you do have “crystals” in the inner ear (they are normal and called “otoconia”). When they become displaced it can cause strong dizziness and spinning with certain movements of the head. This condition is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). With that being said, this is not the ONLY problem that can make someone dizzy or have vertigo. Getting a correct diagnosis can be confusing, frustrating and sometimes a long process. Below are some other examples of causes of dizziness due to dysfunction of the vestibular system.
ACOUTIC NEUROMA: benign tumor growing on the vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII).
CERVICOGENIC: syndrome of imbalance and dizziness in those with cervical trauma, whiplash and other disorders of the neck.
MAL DE DEBARQUEMENT: sensation of motion or rocking that continues after a cruise or other forms of travel
MENIERE’S DISEASE: dysfunction of the quantity, composition or pressure of one of the fluids within the inner ear (endolymph)
MIGRAINE ASSOCIATED VERTIGO (MAD): usually head pain along with dizziness/motion intolerance/spontaneous vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, tinnitus (ringing) imbalance and more.
OTOTOXICITY: damage to the inner ear nerve due to high exposure to certain drugs or chemicals.
PERILYMPH FISTULA: a tear or defect in the oval or round window (small thin membranes that separates the middle ear fluid from the inner ear fluid)
PERSISTENT POSTURAL PERCEPTUAL DIZZINESS (3PD): previously known as phobic postural vertigo (PPV), and Chronic Subjective Dizziness (CSD), presents with a persistent sensation of non-rotational dizziness or unsteadiness and hypersensitivity to motion, lasting at least 3 months.
SUPERIOR CANAL DEHISCENCE: an opening in the bone of the uppermost semicircular canal within the inner ear.
VESTIBULAR NEURITIS/LABYRINTHITIS: inflammation of the inner ear nerve(s) often caused by a viral infection.
And there are still more! If you are dizzy, be sure to see one of our experienced vestibular physical therapists at APRS for an accurate assessment. There are more than just crystals that may be the cause!
Nancy Astrup, PT is an Emory Certified Vestibular Physical Therapist with over 30 years of experience treating dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance.