Investigating Dizziness And Balance Problems

Fiona Idriss

Persistent dizziness (vertigo) affects 10% of the population. More than 40% of people over the age of 40 experience vertigo at some point. It can range from mild short spells that are relieved by resting to severe attacks that cause profound changes to the quality of life. 

Our senior audiologist Fiona Idriss describes the effects of balance disorders, along with some of the ways in which we investigate these in our balance clinics.

Always contact your GP if you have any of the following:  
Recurring symptoms, accompanied by hearing loss, tinnitus, pain or visual problems 

Call for emergency help if you experience dizziness associated with: 
Chest pain, changes in speech, numbness or weakness, shortness of breath, high fever or severe headache.  

Many causes of vertigo

Dizziness or imbalance can be related to viral or bacterial infections, vascular events, some medications, toxins, or traumatic damage to the complex vestibular systems which act like a spirit level.

Changes in pressure receptors in our body that let the brain know where we are in relation to our environment, or problems with our balance receptor systems in the brain can also be causes of balance disorders.

Sometimes there are simple cures to alleviate the disorders and some resolve naturally. Some patients suffer with vestibular migraine or BPPV benign paroxysmal vertigo,  or may be diagnosed with vestibular neuronitis, or Ménière’s Disease.  

Balance problems can also be associated with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. So, it really is important to consult a doctor.  

Screening tests

There are specialist ear nose and throat consultants at our associated private hospital sites who deal with more complex cases and refer their patients to our diagnostic clinic to perform vestibular screening tests.

At Hearbase, we have Interacoustics testing systems, which include video head impulse testing (VHIT) and videonystagmography (VNG). The image shows the video recording goggles used for our tests and a model of the semicircular canals that form part of our balance system. 

The reports on the findings of these tests can help the clinician in diagnosing the cause of the balance problems and whether medication or vestibular rehabilitation may be helpful.  There are specialist physiotherapists that can help develop a recovery plan for those with chronic symptoms. 

If you are interested in finding out more about balance problems, then please visit the website run by the Ménière’s Society which offers current information on types of balance disorders, treatments and up-to-date research.  

If you would like to talk to an audiologist about our balance services ring us on 0800 028 6179 or email admin@hearbase.com to make an appointment.

Find out more about our balance services here.