How Do Your Ears Help You Keep Balanced?

The organs that control your sense of balance are actually inside your ears.

Three arched tubes, called semicircular canals, are inside each ear, filled with a liquid called lymph. Each tube helps to control your sense of balance in one dimension: width, height, and depth.

Inside these canals are stiff hairs attached to nerve cells. Whenever you move, the lymph inside the canals moves too, and the movement of the liquid is felt by the hairs. The way these hairs move tells your brain what it needs to know to keep you balanced.

If you spin around very quickly and then stop suddenly, the lymph in your semicircular canals keeps moving for a time. This tells your brain that you’re moving, but the rest of your senses tell it that you’re not. The result is the sensation we call dizziness!