Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Crystals (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) are benign, but they do cause bothersome position-related dizziness with a spinning sensation.

This is commonly referred to as 'loose crystals'.

The balance organ consists of three perpendicular and adjacent canals (anterior canals and posterior semicircular canals). Along these canals, there are two spherical protrusions: the sacculus and the utriculus. These protrusions are filled with otolytes (crystals) and are the reason behind the spinning sensation. The spinning sensation is caused by the crystals rolling around in these canals.

Symptoms

The symptoms of loose ear crystals are brief (lasting approximately thirty seconds) attacks of dizziness. They are brought on by certain changes in position (e.g. turning over in bed, looking upwards). Due to the movements of the loose crystals, some people also experience nausea.

Diagnosis and treatment

Treatment

Treatment consists of therapeutic movements that your ENT physician will practice with you. The ENT physician will work with you on fairly simple turning or rotational movements to return the loose crystals to their proper place.

After the treatment, we recommend:

  • avoiding abrupt head movements
  • not sleeping on the affected side
  • sleeping with your head elevated at a 30° angle

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 11/08/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith