Syptoms and Cause
BPPV symptoms include dizziness, nausea, falling due to loss of balance, and ringing in the ears. Trauma to the ear may cause it, or it may develop for unknown reasons.
The vestibular system is the part of the inner ear that controls balance. The system has three major parts:
1) utricle, a sack with a bed of sensors inside
2) semicircular canals, round canals, each with an ampullary cupula in the middle to detect movement.
3) saccule, located at the base of this system, contains an instrument like a computer. It receives the data from the utricle and ampullary cupolas through a nerve, analyzes it, translates it, and sends it to the brain.
The vestibular system, together with the nervous system, and vision, provide the body's sense of balance.
The sensor sack (utricle), is like a field of flowers that bend and flow with head movement. The flower heads are pieces of calcium carbonate (otoconia) that rest on the otolithic membrane along the bottom of the sack. However, due to trauma, landslides may happen, where pieces of calcium carbonate break loose and float into the semicircular canals. When the pieces of calcium are out of place, they can clog the canals, or distort the data generated in the semicircular canals. This causes vertigo, and other symptoms.
Key terms to look up on the Internet for diagrams and further information: BPPV, vestibular, utricle, semicircular canals, ampullary cupula, saccule, otoconia, otolithic membrane.
The best way to cure BPPV is to coax the otoconia back into utricle. Doctors know how to roll the head, so the otoconia return to their correct positions. Usually a physical therapist or audiologist treats BPPV, but other practitioners can learn to do it. First, the doctor rolls the patient's head and upper body to move the otoconia to where they belong. After that, the patient practices eye movements that help re-train the brain signals. If the BPPV has been a longstanding condition, it may take longer to cure. The patient must follow through on the exercise program, because like all physical therapy, the patient doing the exercises is half of the process.
To find out what the treatment is like, go on Youtube and watch the BPPV videos. If you want to try it, go to your doctor and ask for a referral to a physical therapist for vertigo treatment. Keywords for video searches:
Canalith Repositioning Procedure
Half Somersault, Dr. Carol Foster
Liberatory Semont Maneuver (left posterior canal only)
BPPV eye exercises