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Dizziness (Vertigo) and Balance Problems: Diagnostic Tests

Healthcare provider examining man’s ear with scope.

An otolaryngologist (also called an ENT) is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. Your ENT can help find clues to the cause of your dizziness. He or she will examine you and go over your health history. Your ENT may also order certain tests to help diagnose your problem.

Hearing testing

In most cases, you will be referred 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 doctor may recommend more than one kind of test. The following tests are painless, but may cause dizziness in some cases.

  • MRI creates 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 computerized chair.

  • Posturography tests your standing balance under different conditions. You will stand on a platform that 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 conditions.

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Kacker, Ashutosh, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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