Here at The Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists of Wisconsin, we specialize in treating a variety of balance disorders and their symptoms. Balance disorders often result in feeling unsteady and dizzy. Dizziness can involve a sensation that the room is spinning or a light-headed, faint feeling. Balance disorders can range from mild to severe, significantly impacting one’s ability to walk, climb stairs and perform daily activities. Severe cases of imbalance can also decrease one’s quality of life, especially when it starts to impair daily and social activities.
Balance tests can help determine the cause of balance disorders and — therefore — help guide therapy.
Causes of imbalance include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (a.k.a. BPPV) – Calcium crystals in our inner ears help control balance, however, when these crystals get shifted out of their normal position, it can make you feel like the room is spinning, especially if you move your head too quickly. BPPV is the most common cause of this room spinning sensation, also known as vertigo.
- Meniere’s disease – This chronic disorder can cause debilitating bouts of dizziness, hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Vestibular neuritis – Vestibular neuritis is believed to be caused by post-viral inflammation of the inner ear nerves. Nausea and vertigo are common symptoms.
- Head injury – Head injuries and concussions often cause at least transient dizziness and imbalance.
- Migraines – Neurological disorders such as migraines often include dizziness as one of their many symptoms.
- Medications – Dizziness can be a side effect of some medications
Diagnosing and treating balance disorders usually involve one or more balance test such as:
- An Electronystagmography (ENG) and videonystagmography (VNG) test – These tests record and measure your eye movements. Eye movement can help reveal how your brain is interpreting your environment and how that is being translated into body position and balance.
- Electrocochleography – A test that can indicate Meniere’s disease.
- Dix hallpike maneuver – This test records how your eyes react to abrupt movements and can be useful in identifying BPPV.
- Audiological Test –Hearing tests are frequently included in the workup due to the close association between hearing and balance.