Are Crystals in My Ears Causing my Dizziness?

If the headline is a bit gross and makes you want to leave the page, please don’t! We promise this is pretty interesting, and not as gross as it sounds. It’s a bit gross, but isn’t that the case with most of the human body?

In some fantasy stories, the world is bound together by four crystals that control the elements. When you hear of crystals in your ear, however, be aware that they are significantly less interesting and powerful than crystals that control earth, wind, fire, and water.

Well, if they aren’t ingots infused with the power of the universe, what are the crystals that form and reside within your ear? Where do they come from, what do they do, and are they good or bad? Read on to find out!

What are ear crystals?

We won’t mince words  – the concept of ear crystals is definitely a bit disgusting. But if it makes it any better, the crystals themselves aren’t a problem. We’ve all got them, and as long as they’re in place, they’re entirely harmless.

Blue crystals

If you're wondering what these ear crystals look like – worry not. They don't look like this.

These crystals are known as otoliths, which translates to “ear stones.” They are crystalized collections of calcium that rest firmly within the inner ear, also known as the cochlea. Standard and entirely harmless, they only pose a potential problem if one is to be dislodged.

If one does get dislodged, it can cause some not-so-fun vertigo and dizziness by becoming stuck in the wrong spot in your inner ear, the part of the ear that relays your orientation and balance. This is called “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).”

What causes ear crystals?

Like we mentioned, the crystals themselves are perfectly natural. It would be worrying if someone didn’t have them. But what can cause these otoliths to detach and wreak havoc on the inner ear?

It usually results from some kind of blunt force trauma or whiplash, but sometimes it can happen for no reason whatsoever. Such is the unfair chaos of life. After it occurs, the sufferer will usually experience vertigo after quick movements of the head, like looking up, rolling over, or laying down quickly. It won’t last long, but it can be very disorienting.

How do you realign ear crystals?

We do have some good news though – it’s not hard to reverse. Treatment typically includes exercises which move your head and body in certain positions, followed by a 24-48 hour period of limited movement.

epley-maneuver

If done correctly, these exercises should shift the crystal(s) out of the canals and back into their proper place in the inner ear. Sometimes these exercises can be done at home, but the most effective way to diagnose and treat BPPV – or “loose crystals” – is to see an Otolaryngologist (ENT) or Audiologist who is trained in vestibular disorders.

Overall

If you made it this far without getting squeamish, well done! If you got this far and did feel squeamish, you get an even bigger well done!

If you stumbled upon this article because your ears have been feeling strange, or because things seem quieter, it’d be worth having a check up. To arrange a free hearing test, you can fill out our quick and easy form, and find out if you really do have any problems with your ears.

Duncan Lambden

Duncan Lambden

Writer

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses. Duncan has been working alongside Florida-based audiologist Lindsey Banks, Au.D., to make sure that Everyday Hearing has the most up-to-date content.

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