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Many health conditions affect the inner ear and dizziness is often one of the first symptoms of the problem. Known as vertigo or lightheadedness, feeling dizzy can be an unsettling experience. The inner ear houses nerves related to balance, so people suffering from inner ear infections or other conditions often complain of feeling faint or feeling as if the room were spinning.
Infection of the inner ear and dizziness are the most common complaints that send people in search of medical advice regarding vertigo. For most people, a little time and a few doses of antibiotics to relieve the infection are all that is necessary to correct the issue. Those who wait for an extended period of time to seek treatment may not see such immediate results. By ignoring an ear infection and the dizziness that accompanies it, one may cause permanent damage to the nerves and structure of the inner ear and dizziness may become a long-term issue.
For some people suffering from physical damage to the inner ear, vertigo and faintness may become a chronic problem. Damage to or the degradation of the physical structures of the inner ear can be the root cause of vertigo. This is particularly true in the case of older adults or people who have suffered recent head trauma.
Inside the ear, a small pouch-shaped structure called the utricle contains thousands of small calcium carbonate stones. These stones serve to activate the nerves of the inner ear when the head is moved. This nerve stimulation aids in maintaining balance, because it helps the brain assess the head's positioning in correlation to the signals it receives from the eyes and other senses.
In a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), these calcium carbonate stones become dislodged and can enter the inner ear canal. When this happens, these stones bounce around in the inner ear, and dizziness results when the nerves send a signal to the brain that the person's head is moving about wildly. While the condition can correct itself or be treated with certain therapy techniques, such as the Epley maneuver, it has a high rate of recurrence, particularly in older adults. For those who suffer from these stones falling into the canals of the inner ear and dizziness on a regular basis due to BPPV, your doctor may recommend surgically closing the ear canal to prevent the problem.
The inner ear is also probably responsible for motion sickness, which I get at the drop of a hat. I can get a sick feeling just thinking about being carsick. It's really awful. I'm told the inner ear in people who get motion sickness is extra sensitive or something to that effect. I don't know. I just know it's a terrible feeling to have.
I would like to see a definitive explanation on what exactly about the inner ear causes motion sickness. Dizziness is often a first symptom before the wracking nausea sets in.