Feeling unsteady, dizzy or like the room is spinning around you are common symptoms of a balance disorder. In order to determine what is causing and how to treat your unexplained episodes of dizziness, your audiologist will need to conduct a series of balance tests.
Your balance system relies on many parts of your body working together to keep you walking, running and standing upright without falling.
Within your inner ear are three loops called the semicircular canals. One canal is responsible for sensing up and down movements, one senses side to side movements and the final determines if you are tilting. Each loop is filled with liquid and lined with hair cells; when you move, the liquid activates the hair cells, which send electrical impulses about where you are in space through the auditory nerve to your brain.
Your brain uses this information along with what it sees and feels to keep you balanced.
Balance disorders can occur at any age but appear most in older populations. Symptoms include:
- Loss of balance/staggering while walking
- Lightheadedness/floating sensation
- Blurred vision or double vision
While there are a number of balance disorders, the most common causes of your imbalance include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular neuritis
- Head injury
- Medicine side effect
In order to determine what is causing your balance issues, your audiologist will review your medical history and complete a full physical exam. They will then order a series of balance tests.
ENG & VNG Tests
Electronystagmography (ENG) and videonystagmography (VNG) tests record your eye movements, as your vision system plays a large role in balance. The process is simple. You’ll sit in an exam chair in a dark room. Your audiologist will ask you to look at a light on the screen and follow the pattern. You may be asked to change your sitting position while your eyes follow the light. During the test, warm or cold water will be placed in each ear. This will change how your eyes move. If there is no change, this tells your audiologist that there is damage to the nerves in your inner ear.
Rotary Chair Test
This test measures your eye movements. You will be seated in a motorized chair controlled by a computer and asked to put on a pair of goggles. These goggles will record your eye movements while the chair slowly moves back and forth and in a circle.
A computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) test measures your balance while standing. This test requires you to stand barefoot on a platform wearing a harness for safety. You will watch a screen showing a landscape around you. The platform will move while your ability to balance is measured.
A vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) test measures how specific muscles respond to sound, an indicator of a problem in the inner ear. You will recline in a chair and wear headphones. Sensors will be attached to your forehead, neck and under your ears to record your muscle movements. A series of tones will be played through the headphones, and you may be asked to move your head in different positions.
Dix Hallpike Maneuver
This test measures how your eyes react to abrupt movements. You will move quickly from a sitting position to lying down while moving your head around. Your audiologist will monitor your eye movements to see if they indicate a false sense of motion or spinning.
The results from these tests will be used by your audiologist to diagnose the cause of your dizziness and put together a treatment plan.
To learn more about what to expect from balance testing or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at CENTA Medical Group today.