Maintaining balance is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives. Balance disorders can significantly impact our equilibrium, leading to dizziness, unsteadiness and potential falls. It’s important to know about balance disorders, how they are related to hearing loss and how vestibular testing can help! Keep reading to learn more from your ear specialists of Omaha.
Hearing loss and balance
Problems with your hearing health can contribute to difficulty balancing. The vestibular system relies on parts of our inner ears to orient ourselves throughout space. Our inner ears have what’s called the labyrinth, consisting of three semicircular canals and two otolith organs. The three canals are filled with fluid and can sense when we move as gravity affects this fluid. It’s a very small system, but a very unique aspect of our bodies!
Understanding balance disorders
Balance disorders encompass a range of conditions that disrupt the body's ability to maintain equilibrium. Common balance disorders include vertigo (a spinning sensation), labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear), Meniere's disease (fluctuating hearing loss and vertigo) and vestibular migraine. These disorders can be caused by various factors, including inner ear problems, ear infections, head injuries or underlying medical conditions.
The role vestibular testing plays
Vestibular testing plays a crucial role in diagnosing and evaluating balance disorders. By assessing the function of the vestibular system, these tests help health care professionals, like ear specialists of Omaha, identify the underlying cause of balance problems and develop appropriate treatment plans. Vestibular testing is typically offered for the following reasons:
Balance disorders can have various causes and their symptoms often overlap. Vestibular testing allows health care professionals to pinpoint the specific dysfunction and provide an accurate diagnosis, which enables them to come up with a successful treatment plan catered to the individual’s unique needs.
Once a diagnosis is established, vestibular testing results help guide the development of personalized treatment plans. By understanding the specific nature of the balance disorder, health care professionals can recommend treatments such as physical therapy, medication, lifestyle modifications or surgical options.
Vestibular testing is not limited to initial diagnosis; it is also useful for monitoring the progress of patients undergoing treatment. By conducting follow-up tests, health care professionals can assess the effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.
Types of vestibular testing
Vestibular testing encompasses a variety of procedures designed to evaluate the function of the inner ear and related structures. Here are some commonly used vestibular tests:
VNG assesses eye movements in response to specific stimuli, such as changes in head position. It helps determine if there are any abnormalities or asymmetries in the vestibular system.
This procedure involves putting warm or cool air or water into the ear canal to elicit specific eye movements called nystagmus. Caloric testing assesses the function of each inner ear separately and provides valuable information about the integrity of the vestibular system.
Rotary chair test
The rotary chair test measures eye movements in response to rotational stimulation. By rotating the individual in a chair at varying speeds and directions, this test evaluates the function of the semicircular canals, which are responsible for detecting rotational movement.
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs)
VEMPs evaluate the vestibular system's response to sound stimulation. By measuring muscle responses in the neck or eyes, this test provides information about the health of specific parts of the inner ear.
Visit your ear specialists of Omaha
If you experience persistent balance issues, you should consult with a qualified health care professional who can guide you through the vestibular testing process and provide you with the necessary support for managing your condition effectively. Contact us today to see how we can help!