You deserve to know the truth about vestibular testing
In our line of work, we’ve learned that many patients who either have or fear they have vestibular issues (a loss of balance, dizziness, or other vertigo-like symptoms) because they’ve heard that vestibular tests will make them feel sick.
This idea that vestibular testing will make you sick is largely a misconception, and it’s one that sometimes prevents people from getting the care that they need in order to treat their dizziness and balance conditions and lead a healthier, happier life.
The truth is, in our experience as providers of comprehensive vestibular testing, very few people feel sick during the testing process. Our team goes to great lengths to explain the nature of each test, the process, and whatever other details we can in order to make everyone in our care feel as comfortable as possible.
And if you’re someone who is more prone to feeling queasy, we’ll choose a different test that will increase your comfort. The most important thing you can do is get the testing you need so that you can receive the care you deserve!
What is vestibular testing?
When a person has a balance problem, odds are that there are issues occurring within their body’s vestibular system.
The vestibular system is located primarily in our inner ears, and is responsible for a number of critical sensory, spatial, and perceptive functions. These functions include balance, stability, spatial awareness and orientation, posture, body movement, and more.
Within our vestibular system are a series of fluid-filled canals, called the semicircular canals. At times — and at any age, but most commonly as we age — complications can occur in our delicate (but no less essential) vestibular system, necessitating testing in order to determine if the dizziness, balance issues, vertigo, or even feelings of fainting are being caused by an issue in the inner ear.
Colorado Ear Care offers comprehensive testing to help you get the most accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan possible.
What are common vestibular tests?
At Colorado Ear Care, we aim to provide a more in-depth approach to hearing health. To us, it’s not about selling products. Our work is about providing our patients the best possible hearing care experience.
When it comes to balance-related testing, our offerings include:
Rotary Chair Testing
Rotary chair testing records your eye movements as you sit in a slowly rotating chair. The chair itself is a computerized device that is connected to a pair of goggles that capture your eye movements, and help us localize the potential source of your balance issues, honing in specifically on your superior vestibular nerve and horizontal semicircular canal.
Rotary chair testing is an incredibly important test, but is not often available at many testing facilities due to the high cost associated with the equipment. For instance, this is the same equipment that respected clinics like Mayo and Johns Hopkins use for vestibular testing. This is how important your care is to us.
This is probably the most common test for diagnosing vestibular concerns. Similar to the rotary chair testing, it records eye movements to help us better understand your issues. However, this testing procedure uses infrared cameras in an effort to identify any irregularities in your central nervous or vestibular systems.
We can also carefully place your head in certain positions to discover whether or not symptoms of vertigo occur.
Vestibular-Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs)
This is a very quick, non-invasive, and highly specific test, focusing on a particular area of the vestibular system called the saccule.
The saccule helps you understand spatial orientation of your body, particularly that of your movements on a vertical plane, by playing sounds into your ear, and recording muscular response to them.
Gans Sensory Organization Performance Test (SOP)
The SOP test tells us if you’re having trouble with your equilibrium, and if you’ve become overly reliant on things like your vision or on surfaces in order to maintain a regular sense of balance.
Visual Acuity Test
As the name suggests, this test centers on your vision, specifically if your vision changes when you make certain head movements. If you are determined to have vestibular issues, we will often use the results of this test as a baseline to refer back to after you’ve undergone Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy.
People are often surprised to learn how deeply intertwined our hearing and balance systems are, but difficulties in balance can often point to an undiagnosed hearing condition. We use this test to determine if hearing loss is present, as well as where it is present (i.e., the outer, middle, or inner ear).
Techniques include but are not limited to traditional audiometry, Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses (BAER), and otoacoustic emissions testing.
Will Vestibular Testing Make Me Feel Sick?
There are tests that may evoke feelings of dizziness but these are done solely to gain a better understanding of your condition, and those feelings shouldn’t last more than a few minutes. Far less than the feelings of discomfort and disruption that have led you to our practice.
That said, if you feel particularly sensitive to the symptoms related to your balance and dizziness problem, we do recommend that you bring a companion with you to your appointment. They can help drive you home in the rare instance that your discomfort persists.
What else should I know about preparing for my appointment?
We would encourage you to wear comfortable clothes to your appointment, as certain movements will help us garner more accurate results about what you’re feeling. In some cases, more specific instructions might be offered, but these are offered on a case-by-case basis.
More than anything else, we want you to feel comfortable coming to Colorado Ear Care for your dizziness and balance needs.
Our goal is to conduct the tests that will lead to recommendations and treatment that will ultimately provide you with the relief you so richly deserve.
We sincerely assure you that this process is nothing to be afraid of. Our partnership is designed to help you get back to how you felt before you started experiencing these issues. You deserve it, and our goal is to help you get there!
Ready to finally get relief from your dizziness and balance concerns? Contact Colorado Ear Care today for your appointment!