Archive for July, 2009

The Inner Ear

The Ear

The Ear

The ear consists of the outer ear, which collects and directs soundwaves into the middle ear. The middle ear collects these soundwaves and transforms them into vibrations which are passed into the inner ear. The inner ear propogates these vibrations, in the cochlea, as waves in fluid and membranes, and transmits them as nerve impulses that are transmitted to the brain through the auditory nerve.(1)
Inner Ear

Inner Ear

This inner ear, or bony labyrinth, consists of the cochlea (which transmits soundwaves to the nerve impulse to be transmitted to the brain) and the vestibular system. The vestibular system controls an individual’s balance and is comprised of three semicircular canals and the otoliths (utricle and saccule). The semicircular canals detect rotational movement while the otoliths detect linear movements. (2)

Balance Disorder Symptoms: Adults + Kids

Here is a good list of signs/symptoms that can occur because of balance disorders. Please note that just because you have these symptoms doesn’t mean you have a balance disorder.


  • Ear fullness, pain, pressure
  • Feelings of false movement or spinning
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Hearing loss, ringing (tinnitus), sound distortion, sound sensitivity, inability to determine sound direction
  • Motion intolerance or sickness
  • Difficulty in the dark
  • Cotton in the head or ears feeling
  • Blurred, bouncing and/or double vision, trouble watching motion, jerking vision, difficulty focusing, difficulty looking through binoculars, cameras, microscopes, and/or telescopes, difficulty with glare
  • Clumsiness, difficulty walking, difficulty turning, feeling of walking through the floor…

Symptoms that kids with vestibular disorders often display. Obviously, these changes in a child’s behavior can be accounted for in many different ways, but if children are displaying a few of these symptoms, it may be good to bring him/her to the doctor just to check on it. Better safe than sorry!

  • Clinging to a parent
  • Crying
  • Fear of being alone
  • Quiet and withdrawn
  • Seeks reassurance
  • Staggering around
  • Sudden falls

For a complete list, please follow this link:

Do YOU Know About Balance Disorders???

Take this balance disorder quiz to find out what you know, and what you don’t!,BalanceQuiz

Even Famous People Get Dizzy…

Famous People Reported to have Vertigo:

Alain Robert, rock and urban climber

LeBron James, Basketball Player

George Clinton, Music Artist

Richard Lugar, U.S. Senator

Nicolas Cage, Actor

Jeff Hackett, Hockey Player

David Duval, Professional golfer

Nick Esasky, Baseball Player

Alan Shepard, Mercury and Apollo Astronaut

Abraham Zapruder, recorded John F. Kennedy assassination

Philip K. Dick, Author

Janet Jackson, Musical Artist

Famous People Reported to have Tinnitus:

Vincent Van Gogh, Artist

Oscar Wilde, Author

Sylvester Stallone, Actor

William Shatner, Actor

David Letterman, Comedian

Ronald Reagan, Former President of the United States

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 18th-Century Political Philosopher

Charles Darwin

Famous People Reported to Have Meniere’s Disease:

Emily Dickinson, Poetess

Martin Luther, Inspired Protestant Reformation

Alan Shepard, First American in Space and Fifth Person to Walk on the moon

If You are Dizzy and You Fall

All dizzy patients do not fall, but it can happen. Here are some great tips on what to do if you do fall, how to prevent falls and some lines you can use to add some humor to the situation if you fall (and you aren’t seriously hurt).

If You Fall:

  • Before you attempt to get up, take an inventory of yourself to be sure you haven’t been seriously hurt. If you have been injured, ask someone to call 911 for you.
  • Stay in control. Well-meaning bystanders may rush to your side to help. And may rush to get you upright. Calmly tell those around you how you intend to get up and how they can assist you. Maintaining composure keeps you in charge.
  • Bring some humor to the situation! Humor relaxes you and those around you and makes it easier to recover your self-esteem. Be prepared with some funny comebacks just in case (see box below).
  • Say thank you to anyone who has helped. Graciousness goes a long way in maintaining your dignity.

    How to Not Fall:

  • You are at risk of falling if you have balance problems, spasticity, or weakness in your legs. Work with a physical therapist to learn how to walk and move more safely. A PT can also teach you the safest ways to get up from a fall.
  • If, after working with a PT, you still struggle with falling, consider using a cane, walker, or a brace. Often people avoid this step because they want “to look normal” but falling doesn’t look normal and can hurt you!
  • Wear safe, low-heeled shoes.
  • Be conscious of where you are walking. For instance, stay away from a freshly washed floor.
  • Make your home safe. Keep the areas where you walk clear. Move electric cords and telephone wires out of the way. Tack down loose carpets or remove them. Apply no-slip strips to tile and wooden floors.

    Bring Some Humor to Your Fall (unless you are seriously hurt):

  • We all have our ups and downs.
  • Something is telling me I need a rest.
  • When did they redo the ceiling?
  • You know, it’s so much cooler down here.

    Doctor Checklist

    When vestibular disorders are suspected a trip to the doctors is inevitable. Here is a great checklist to bring with you for any of your doctor visits; your primary care doctor, ENT, or neurologist. If you sit down and write all of the information out before hand, including questions you may have, there is a greater chance that you won’t forget it while at the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, this won’t take the place of all the paperwork you will undoubtedly have to fill out – but it will be a good resource to copy from.

    BPPV and Multiple Sclerosis

    Approximately 20% of individuals with MS have reported symptoms of vertigo, which is nearly double the average of the population at large (1). Since vertigo is prevalent with MS, doctors may automatically treat it with medication. Studies have shown that over 50% of MS patients with vertigo actually have vertigo because of BPPV (2). The good thing about this is that BPPV is treatable through vestibular rehabiliation (physical therapy). So if you have MS and you are experiencing vertigo, make sure to inquire with your doctor about BPPV. If the doctor doesn’t test for BPPV, have them send you to a neurologist/ENT /physical therapist that does. It could potentially save you a lot of time, $$ and some sanity!