Dizziness, Vertigo, and Balance Disorders
Dizziness, also known as vertigo, is an inner ear-related disorder that causes a sensation of abnormal movement. It can result from an infection leading to inflammation of the balance nerve or inner ear, overproduction of fluid within the inner ear, small stones that get dislodged and enter improper locations, or even certain types of tumors. Due to the proximity of the balance nerve to the nerve responsible for hearing, hearing loss, noise in the ear (tinnitus), or a sensation of fullness in the ear is often associated with vertigo.
In order to make a diagnosis, a detailed medical history is absolutely crucial, and is accompanied by a detailed physical examination and ancillary testing, such as a hearing test and other balance/eye movement tests. Because vertigo can be caused by both the inner ear and the brain, it’s important for the ENT physician to differentiate between the two potential causes.
If recommended by an ENT physician, the audiologists may perform a test known as videonystagmography (VNG). VNG testing carefully watches patient eye movements while the patient performs various activities. The VNG equipment is extremely sensitive. It analyzes movement of the pupil, and the pupil can be influenced by various foods, beverages, and medications — even wearing make-up or earrings negatively effects the VNG equipment. These influences on VNG testing can result in the audiologist being unable to make an accurate diagnosis. Therefore, it’s very important that all VNG instructions be followed.