Balance Testing

Is it time to improve your quality of life?

Schedule a Consultation

Balance Testing

Is it time to improve your quality of life?

Schedule a Consultation

Balance Problems and Disorders

Have you ever felt dizzy, lightheaded, or as if the room were spinning around you? These can be troublesome sensations. If the feeling happens often, it could be a sign of a balance problem.  Balance problems are among the most common reasons that older adults seek help from a doctor. They are often caused by disturbances of the inner ear. Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning, is a common symptom.  Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or remaining still. Good balance is important to help you get around, stay independent, and carry out daily activities.  Balance disorders are one reason older people fall.

Do You Have a Balance Disorder?

You can help identify a balance problem by asking yourself some key questions. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to call our office.

  • Do I feel unsteady?
  • Do I feel as if the room is spinning around me, even only for brief periods of time?
  • Do I feel as if I’m moving when I know I’m standing or sitting still?
  • Do I lose my balance and fall?
  • Do I feel as if I’m falling?
  • Do I feel lightheaded, or as if I might faint?
  • Does my vision become blurred?
  • Do I ever feel disoriented, losing my sense of time, place, or identity?


Videonystagmography Testing

Videonystagmography (VNG) is a technology for testing inner ear and central motor functions, a process known as vestibular assessment. It involves the use of infrared goggles to trace eye movements during visual stimulation and positional changes.  VNG can determine whether dizziness is caused by inner ear disease, particularly benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), as opposed to some other cause such as low blood pressure or anxiety.


Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder arising from a problem in the inner ear. Symptoms are repeated, brief periods of vertigo with movement, that is, of a spinning sensation upon changes in the position of the head. This can occur with turning in bed or changing position. Each episode of vertigo typically lasts less than one minute. Nausea is commonly associated.  BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo. 

BPPV can result from a head injury or simply occur among those who are older. A specific cause is often not found. The underlying mechanism involves a small calcified otolith moving around loose in the inner ear. It is a type of balance disorder along with labyrinthitis and Ménière’s disease. Diagnosis is typically made when the Dix–Hallpike test results in nystagmus (a specific movement pattern of the eyes) and other possible causes have been ruled out. In typical cases, medical imaging is not needed.

BPPV is often treated with a number of simple movements such as the Epley maneuver or Brandt–Daroff exercises. Medications may be used to help with nausea. There is tentative evidence that betahistine may help with vertigo but its use is not generally needed. BPPV is not a serious condition. Typically it resolves in one to two weeks. It, however, may recur in some people.

The first medical description of the condition occurred in 1921 by Robert Barany. About 2.4% of people are affected at some point in time. Among those who live until their 80s, 10% have been affected. BPPV affects females twice as often as males. Onset is typically in the person’s 50s to 70s.

Symptoms of a Balance Disorder

If you have a balance disorder, you may stagger when you try to walk, or teeter or fall when you try to stand up. You might experience other symptoms such as:


Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation)


Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall


Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation


Blurred vision


Confusion or disorientation

A Balance Disorder or Something Else?

Balance disorders can be signs of other health problems, such as an ear infection, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. In some cases, you can help treat a balance disorder by seeking medical treatment for the illness that is causing the disorder. 

Some exercises help make up for a balance disorder by moving the head and body in certain ways. The exercises are developed especially for a patient by a professional (often a physical therapist) who understands the balance system and its relationship with other systems in the body.

Balance problems due to high blood pressure can be managed by eating less salt (sodium), maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising. Balance problems due to low blood pressure may be managed by drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, avoiding alcohol, and being cautious regarding your body’s posture and movement, such as standing up slowly and avoiding crossing your legs when you’re seated.

Coping With a Balance Disorder

Some people with a balance disorder may not be able to fully relieve their dizziness and will need to find ways to cope with it. A vestibular rehabilitation therapist can help you develop an individualized treatment plan.

We can help you to determine whether it’s safe to drive and discuss ways to lower your risk of falling during daily activities, such as walking up or down stairs, using the bathroom, or exercising. To reduce your risk of injury from dizziness, avoid walking in the dark. You should also wear low-heeled shoes or walking shoes outdoors. If necessary, use a cane or walker, and modify conditions at your home and workplace, such as by adding handrails.

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