You take balance for granted, until you don’t have it anymore. For most people, this comes in the form of brief dizzy spells that usually don’t add up to much. But for some people, this sensation — called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — is a frequent and unwanted companion.

Those who don’t know that balance issues start in a structure within the inner ear may not realize that their audiologist is the first-line medical provider for balance disorders. Hearing & Balance Services of Reston is even positioning her practice to raise awareness of this. You can contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston when BPPV is a problem, or for more familiar instances, when you need hearing tests, hearing aids, or other common ear services.

The vestibular system

Your body’s ability to stay balanced depends on complex interactions between many systems. Muscles constantly shift and adjust in response to signals from your brain, which interprets nerve impulses issued by tiny organs within your ear, assisted by visual clues about your orientation.

The vestibular system consists of five distinct parts in each ear. The three semicircular canals respond to angular movement, such as when your head rotates, while two organs called otoliths sense straight line movements.

If you’ve ever experienced the sensation of motion sickness, you know how important it is that all parts of the balance system work together. When signals from your ears and eyes don’t agree, you feel that disorientation and nausea.

BPPV episodes

Though it’s not the only cause of balance disorder, BPPV is a common culprit, and it traces back to the semicircular canals. These are filled with fluid and lined with tiny hairs that generate nerve impulses based on the movement of that fluid.

BPPV often results from little particles of calcium that get into the semicircular canals. These particles interfere with the normal impulses, and these compromised nerve impulses confuse the brain, resulting in your BPPV symptoms. Other causes of balance disorders similarly interfere with normal nerve transmissions.

How your audiologist treats balance issues

Our team already run your ears through a range of analyses during a typical hearing assessment, but their involvement doesn’t stop there. Once they identify a problem with the vestibular system, they can implement certain treatments. These therapies include:

  • Canalith repositioning: a series of motions that help to clear the semicircular canals of calcium particles
  • Gaze stabilization: exercises that recalibrate your ears and eyes
  • Static and dynamic balance exercises: physical therapy that helps recalibration of balance
  • Adaptation protocols: occupational therapy designed to help you cope with balance flaws

Assessment of the treatments and their results is also part of the audiologist’s job since, in some cases, there may be other medical specialists involved in balance disorder treatment.

When BPPV starts to interfere with your daily life, contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston to schedule a vestibular system assessment today.