We all feel like life is spinning out of control at times, but if you have dizziness or vertigo, that spinning feeling is for real.

Vertigo is a sensation of spinning, and results in an individual feeling unwell and downright miserable when being upright, when moving their head and when looking up and down.

Our vestibular system helps your body maintain its balance, and helps your body know where your body and head are positioned in space.

Our vestibular system is composed of many organs, including your brain and your ears. The ear is responsible for hearing and balance. It is made of the outer, middle and inner portions of the ear, and each portion has a unique job. The inner ear is composed of the cochlea (which is responsible for hearing) and the vestibular organs.

Each vestibular organ contains the utricle, saccule and three semicircular canals. The vestibular organs sense your head position and movement with the help of tiny air cells that move when you change your head position. The brain uses this information to adjust your eye movements and posture.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo, a false sensation of spinning. BPPV is a mechanical problem in your inner ear that causes a feeling of spinning with certain head positions or movements. BPPV is caused when some of the small crystals normally embedded in gel in your inner ear get dislodged and end up in the semicircular canals of your inner ear. These canals are filled with fluid and sense head motion. The crystals disrupt the normal function of the canal, which sends an abnormal signal to your brain. Your brain interprets this signal as head movement, even though your head is still, causing you to feel dizzy.

Because BPPV is caused by a mechanical problem in the inner ear, the vertigo caused by BPPV is not effectively treated by medications. Unfortunately, when a patient experiences vertigo, they are often initially treated with medications rather than being sent to a physical therapist specially trained in Vestibular Rehabilitation. Further, use of vestibular-suppressing medications for several days may actually prolong recovery.

Britt Zink has advanced training in the assessment and treatment of Vestibular Disorders such as BPPV. She can take you through a series of motions to determine which is the problem ear and which canal the crystals are in. After that, a specific maneuver involving head motion allows gravity to pull the crystals out of the semicircular canal. Usually symptoms can be greatly improved in 1 to 3 treatments, but some patients continue to feel mild dizziness or sensitivity to head motions even after the crystals are removed from the canal. Britt can also evaluate this and prescribe home exercises to correct this problem.