More than 40% of people will experience dizziness or vertigo that is serious enough to go to a healthcare professional. An estimated 65% of individuals over age 60 experience dizziness or imbalance.
The Vestibular System within the inner ear
Audiologists perform audiologic and balance assessments to gather information about your hearing and balance function. Test results help determine the possible causes of dizziness. Results of these assessments, in combination with medical findings, will provide diagnostic information on how to treat your dizziness and balance difficulties. Audiologists can give you information to increase your understanding of dizziness. Understanding what is happening is often relief in itself from having to live with the uncertainty of the condition.
The vestibular system is housed within the inner ear and shares connections with the hearing (auditory) system. If one of the vestibular organs is affected by illness, it is not unusual that the other vestibular organs are affected, too.
It is common for a “dizzy” patient to also have hearing loss and/or ringing or buzzing in the ears. Similarly, a problem with the balance system may also cause abnormal eye movement as the brain tries to decipher why it is receiving inappropriate information.
This requires sophisticated and advanced technology, namely, Videonystagmography (VNG) and Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs).
VNG is the most common objective tool to assess vestibular function
The most commonly diagnosed vestibular disorders include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis, Ménière’s disease, and secondary endolymphatic hydrops. Vestibular disorders also include superior semicircular canal dehiscence, acoustic neuroma, perilymph fistula, ototoxicity, enlarged vestibular aqueduct, migraine-associated vertigo, and mal de débarquement. Other problems related to vestibular dysfunction include complications from aging, autoimmune disorders, and allergies to name a few.