Dizziness and Balance Testing

Have you noticed that you’re a little less confident navigating stairs or just a few steps up onto the porch?

You’ll be surprised to learn that more than 90 million Americans experience vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems in their lifetime, and over 9 million individuals seek help for these and similar conditions by a doctor of audiology each year.

More than just uncomfortable and inconvenient, balance-related falls pose significant health risks and are responsible for more than half of the accidental deaths in the elderly population as well as more than 300,000 hip fractures for individuals over the age of 65 each year.

Dizziness and Balance Testing
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Since you’ve come to this page, you’re probably wondering, “Is there someone who does balance testing near me?”
You’ve come to the right place. Hearing & Balance Clinics provides dizziness and balance testing for Lavonia, Watkinsville, and Loganville, GA as well as for all individuals in Northeast Georgia. By using our experience, expertise, and state-of-the-art technology, we can diagnose your condition and provide personalized solutions to address it.

Understanding How Your Ears Relate to Balance

Why are audiologists concerned about treating dizziness, vertigo, and balance disorders?

The focus of doctors of audiology is on all conditions related to the ears. Your ears play a major role in helping you maintain your balance.

Maintaining your balance involves the coordination of three systems:

Your vision, which delivers visual cues related to your surroundings and the path ahead
Your vestibular system, which involves the inner ear
Your proprioceptive system, which involves sensory input from your muscles and joints

Balance disorders occur when there is a disturbance, malfunction, or discoordination among these systems.

Your Ears and Vestibular System

The vestibular system is located in the inner ear, detecting movement and changes to the positioning of your head. If you’re familiar with a carpenter’s level, you’ll understand how the process works.

Your inner ear includes three semicircular canals containing fluid, each of which detects movements up, down, or side to side. As the fluid moves, it interacts with hairlike cells, which send signals to the brain related to your positioning or the orientation of your body.

Damage to the vestibular system can cause dizziness, vertigo, nausea, and imbalance. Dizziness and balance challenges are not restricted to the elderly. They can affect people of any age due to disease, syndromes, toxins, or trauma as well as the deterioration of the hairlike cells that leads to permanent hearing loss.

Treatment Options for Balance Disorders

Balance disorder treatments are specific to their underlying cause. Disorders such as labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, and perilymph fistula are dealt with by using antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications while the treatment of Meniere’s disease may include motion sickness and anti-nausea medications or diuretics (reduce fluids) and betahistines (improve blood flow to the ears).

Those experiencing balance disorders due to BPPV are treated by using a specific form of physical therapy called canalith repositioning procedure. Each treatment takes only minutes and is successful in treating 95% of patients with no more than 3-4 treatments.

VRT, or vestibular rehabilitation therapy, is the most common form of balance therapy used to treat MdDS or motion sickness. This therapy involves a progressive program of exercises designed to decrease the symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, and visual issues to protect patients against falls related to imbalance.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is also used for all forms of dizziness, vertigo, and balance issues to help individuals cope with vertigo and balance issues associated with each episode.

Vestibular migraines are often treated using beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin or serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs or SNRIs), and topiramate. In addition, changes to your diet, lifestyle, and activities can also help prevent or limit the number or intensity of vestibular migraine episodes.

What to Expect during Your Balance Assessment

Not knowing what happens during balance testing may cause you to avoid it. To help put your mind at ease, here is what you can expect during your balance assessment.

In order to get the best result from your balance assessment, there are certain guidelines we ask our patients to follow before their appointment, including:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol during the immediate 24 hours before your balance test.
  • Please refrain from wearing mascara, eyeliner, or facial lotion when you come to the clinic.
  • Try to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time, so you can relax and get settled in before testing begins.

Your balance assessment will involve a series of advanced technology tests. Although your audiologist might not use all of them, here are the various tests and a brief description of what they are and what they are designed to measure:

Electronystagmography (ENG) tests use electrodes and videonystagmography (VNG) tests use small cameras to record eye movements as you respond to various stimuli.

Rotary Chair Testing involves seating you in a motorized chair that swivels from side to side and rotates at a controlled rate. It is designed to measure the severity of your dizziness and the amount of dizziness caused by the viewing of moving stripes during rotation.

Computerized Dynamic Posturography testing is designed to evaluate how well your inner ears, eyes, and the body’s muscles and joints coordinate to help maintain your balance. This test involves standing you on a force-sensing surface with the support of a harness while being subjected to a movable visual surround.

Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) tests are used to diagnose vestibular lesions that contribute to balance disorders. This test involves attaching sensor pads to your neck, forehead, and under your eyes to measure each minute muscle contraction as you react to sounds.

vHIT testing measures your vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), which helps you maintain the focus of your visual field during head rotations. The absence of VOR or limited reactions helps to pinpoint the cause of your balance disorder.

A Woman Suffering From Balance Disorder Symptoms

Got Questions?

Answers to Some Common Questions about Dizziness and Balance Disorders

What are the common symptoms of a balance disorder?

Balance disorder symptoms can be placed in two classifications:

  • Motion Intolerance. Dizziness and vertigo sometimes occur after rapid head movements or turning too quickly, which can lead to feelings of nausea. These symptoms can come and go quickly or continue for several hours at a time.
  • Imbalance or Unsteadiness. This class of symptoms involves difficulty walking as well as issues of imbalance or unsteadiness related to any kind of upright movement.

What causes balance disorders?

Balance disorders involve disruptions or discoordination between any of the three systems associated with balance: visual system, vestibular system, and proprioceptive system. In relation to the vestibular system, common causes include:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This occurs when calcium carbonate breaks off from the utricle and migrates into one of the semicircular canals, which interrupts the normal movement of fluid, causing false signals to be sent to the brain.
  • Motion Sickness or Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDS). This involves an over-sensitivity to motion that leaves you feeling like you are rocking, swaying, or continuing to move after riding in a car, boat, plane, or even after exercising on a treadmill.
  • Vestibular Migraines. Rather than an intense headache, the primary symptoms of vestibular migraines are dizziness, vertigo, nausea, eye pain, changes to vision, and balance disorders.
  • Labyrinthitis. This involves swelling and irritation in the inner ear, often caused by a cold or flu.
  • Meniere's disease. This is caused by an excessive buildup of fluid in the vestibular system and often produces tinnitus as well.
  • Vestibular Neuritis. This involves inflammation of the vestibular nerve that carries the nerve signals from the inner ear to your brain, which is usually caused by a viral infection.
  • Perilymph Fistula. This occurs when fluid in the inner ear leaks into the middle ear. It is often associated with head injuries, ear surgeries, and long-lasting ear infections.

How does a balance test help diagnose the underlying cause of my balance issues?

Balance testing helps identify which of the three systems related to balance is no longer working properly or identifies coordination issues between these systems.

Are there any preparation requirements before a balance test?

Although there is no point in cramming for a balance test, there are certain guidelines to follow in preparation for your balance test, including:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol during the immediate 24 hours before your balance test.
  • Please refrain from wearing mascara, eyeliner, or facial lotion when you come to the clinic.
  • Try to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time so you can relax and get settled in before testing begins.

Are balance tests covered by insurance?

Many private health insurance companies, including Medicare, Medicaid, and V.A., cover all or portions of balance testing.

How long does it take to see improvements in balance with treatment?

Depending on the condition, its severity, and the treatment used, some can see improvements within three to four short treatments.

Are there any lifestyle changes or exercises that can help improve balance?

VRT, or vestibular rehabilitation therapy, involves a series of exercises designed to help decrease your symptoms of dizziness and vertigo as well as protect you against balance-related falls. In addition, adjusting your diet, lifestyle, and participating in various activities also help prevent or limit the number or intensity of certain balance disorder episodes.

Schedule a Balance Assessment

Dizziness, vertigo, and balance disorders can severely limit your active and independent lifestyle and lead to critical, fall-related injuries if left untreated. Getting help from a doctor of audiology at our Lavonia, Watkinsville, or Loganville clinic before the problem worsens is crucial to maintaining your overall health and well-being.

Contact us at the Hearing & Balance Clinics location nearest you by submitting the adjacent form and a member of our team will call you back and help you schedule a balance assessment.

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