If someone told you, “You have rocks in your head,” you’d probably be insulted. But really, you do. We all do!
If those “rocks” get disrupted, you could suffer from a heck of a case of vertigo.
“It's very debilitating,” says Jody Steinbauer, who suffers from vertigo, which causes a false sense of spinning. “It's pretty miserable,” she says.
Jody saw a doctor who ran tests using specialized goggles that record her eye movements in different positions. The test showed her “ear rocks” were out of whack.
Ear rocks are microscopic crystals, the size of dust, that are in everyone’s inner ears.
“Those crystals are very important; they're in every creature here on this planet,” says Dr. Ian Purcell, MD, PhD, Otoneurologist.
When crystals get displaced it can cause something called “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo” or “BPPV.”
It’s the most common form of vertigo, with 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 of women,” says Dr. Kimberly Bell, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy.
And it’s prevalent in older adults. Proper diagnosis is key.
New guidelines state that greater than 65 percent of people with BPPV will undergo unnecessary testing or interventions.
And healthcare costs associated with the diagnosis approach two billion dollars per year.
“A lot of people suffer from BPPV as a cause of vertigo and they have no idea, says Bell.”
The good news: Relatively simple physical maneuvers performed by a medical professional can help reposition crystals into the right place.
“BPPV can be treated successfully in one to two sessions about 90 percent of the time,” says Bell.
The movements in a special spinning chair helped reset Jody’s ear rocks.
She says the treatment changed her life. “When you don't have vertigo, when you don’t have the dizziness you get your life back, and that's wonderful,” she says.
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