Vestibular System

The vestibular system: the body's centre of inertia

The vestibular system is a powerful motion sensor that informs the central nervous system about the body’s posture: it gathers information about the position and movement of the head and synchronizes it with the visual and proprioceptive signals obtained. For this reason, the vestibular system is also known as the 'balance organ'.

The vestibular system of the inner ear

The vestibular system is made up of a collection of organs in the inner ear whose primary function is to provide balance. The vestibular system is closely linked to the auditory system, with scientific research confirming that the risk of postural imbalance, stumbling or falling also stems from the ability to hear.

Vestibules of the ear

The vestibule of the inner ear is made up of two organs: the utricle and the sacculus. Immersed in a fluid called endolymph, where there are also otoliths and hair cells, essential for regulating balance.

The three semicircular canals

The semicircular canals are three fluid-filled tubes located above the vestibule. All three are arranged perpendicular to one another so that any movement regardless of the axis of rotation can be detected.

The functions of otolithic organs

Otoliths are small clusters of oxalate and calcium carbonate particles, embedded in a gelatinous matrix in the inner ear. They help maintain balance and are sensitive to gravity and linear acceleration, serving as an indicator for the otolithic organs (i.e. utricle and sacculus). 

Inner ear: sense of balance

A person’s sense of balance, or equilibrium, depends on their ear’s vestibular system. Its function is to provide the brain with information about the position of the head and body. It is a very delicate system, and even a slight dysfunction of one of the organs can have serious consequences. If you are experiencing any symptoms, a vestibular examination is always recommended. 

Diseases of the inner ear

The most common vertigo triggers almost always involve a disturbance to one of components of the peripheral vestibular system. Vertigo is a symptom often identified in some of the most common diseases of the inner ear, including but not limited to, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Ménière's disease and vestibular nystagmus.

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