Every kid knows that spinning around and around for any length of time can leave you feeling a little disoriented and very dizzy, but what is the cause of this dizzy sensation? Believe it or not, the ears are to blame.
The inner ear contains thee semi-circular canals that have hair-like nerves and fluid inside of them. When your head moves, the fluid in the canals, called endolymph, doesn’t immediately move because of inertia. As the hair-like nerves move in the stationary fluid, a signal is sent through the nerves to the brain. This signal tells the brain that there is movement, and the brain is then able to determine the speed and direction of the movement.
Think of watching a child spin and spin. Initially the endolymph doesn’t move. However, it eventually begins to spin with the rest of the body (including the hair-like nerves) at the same pace, so messages of movement are no longer sent through the nerve cells to the brain because everything is moving together.
Now picture the ear canals when the child stops suddenly. The head and hair-like nerves are stationary, but the liquid in the ear continues to move because of inertia. This stimulates the nerves in the opposite direction, making the nerves send new messages to the brain. The messages indicate that the head is still moving when it is actually still. Because the nerves are being stimulated in the opposite direction, the child feels as if he is spinning in the opposite direction, creating a sensation of dizziness.
Not all dizziness is child’s play. High or low blood pressure, heart problems, metabolic disorders, and other brain problems can cause dizziness. If you haven’t been spinning but feel a dizzy sensation, see your doctor to determine if there is an underlying medical cause.