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Dizziness (Vertigo) and Balance Problems: Diagnostic Tests 

Healthcare provider examining man’s ear with scope.

An otolaryngologist specializes in problems of the ear, nose, and throat. This healthcare provider is also called an ENT. Your ENT can help find clues to the cause of your dizziness. He or she will give you an exam and go over your past health. Your ENT may also order certain tests to help diagnose your problem.

Hearing testing

In most cases, you will be sent for hearing testing. This is because the nerve that sends balance signals also sends hearing signals. A problem that affects balance can also affect hearing.

Other tests

Your ENT may advise more than one kind of test. These tests don't cause pain. But they may make you dizzy in some cases.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) makes images of the ear or head. A magnetic field and contrast medium are used to make the image.

  • Electronystagmography (ENG) records eye movement. Small electrodes are put on the skin around your eyes. Then your ear is filled with warm or cold water.

  • Rotation tests show the relationship between the inner ear and your eyes. You may be asked to wear special goggles or sit in a special chair.

  • Posturography tests your standing balance under different conditions. You will stand on a platform. It measures shifts in your body weight. 

  • Electrocochleography (ECoG) measures the fluid pressure in the inner ear. An abnormal ECoG may mean you have Meniere's disease or other health problems.

  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) may be used if your ENT suspects a rare condition like superior semicircular canal dehiscence. Electrodes are placed on your neck. You hear clicks in your ear.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2020
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