Feelings of dizziness, vertigo and imbalance can have serious effects on your quality of life. The first step to treating these symptoms and finding relief is to undergo a balance test. Balance tests can help determine the underlying cause of your vestibular issues and point your physician to the best possible solution.
What Causes Balance Problems?
There are many conditions that can cause problems with your balance. Some of the issues most commonly tested for include:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). The inner ears contain calcium crystals that help you control your balance. When they become dislodged, feelings of dizziness and vertigo ensue. BPPV is the most common cause of balance problems.
- Meniere’s Disease. This condition is characterized by spells of dizziness/vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus and pressure in the ears. There is no cure, and episodes tend to worsen over time.
- Vestibular neuritis. This condition is marked by inflammation of the inner ear, usually caused by a virus.
- Migraine headaches are well known to cause dizziness and nausea.
- Head injury. This is a common cause for dizziness symptoms.
- Certain Medications. Many medications list dizziness as a side-effect.
What Happens During a Balance Test?
Balance tests are painless and relatively fast. They are facilitated by either audiologists or ENT (ear, nose and throat) physicians. Common balance tests include:
Electronystagmography (ENG) & Videonystagmography (VNG)
These tests measure your eye movements. For this test, you will sit in an exam chair in a dark room and be asked to look at patterns of light on a screen. You will repeat this exercise seated in a few different positions. Finally, warm and cool air will be puffed into each ear while your eye movements are monitored. If your eyes don’t behave as expected, it may mean there is nerve damage in the inner ear.
Rotary Chair Test
For this test, you will sit in a motorized chair and wear goggles that record eye movements as the chair moves slowly in a circle.
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP)
This test measures certain muscles’ reactions to sound and can indicate inner ear problems. For this test, you will sit in a reclined chair with earphones. Sensory pads will be attached to your head and neck to record muscle movements. As clicks or tones play in the earphones, you’ll be asked to lift your head or eyes for short periods of time.
For more information about how balance tests work, or to schedule an appointment, contact LeMay Hearing & Balance today.