Dizziness is a term used to describe a range of sensations, such as feeling faint, woozy, weak, or unsteady. It is estimated that approximately 40 percent of the United States population will experience some form of dizziness or balance difficulty during their lifetime.
Balance involves several systems in the body, including the muscles, bones, joints, eyes, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and the ear. Trinity Health Audiology recently installed a new form of testing to get to the bottom of balance problems.
Balance testing involves “a whole-body look” at how it affects their balance system, explained Kelsey Artz, AuD, an audiologist with Trinity Health. Among the ways to test for balance problems is through a new procedure recently started by Trinity Health.
Videonystagmography (VNG) is an in-office procedure that uses goggles embedded with cameras to monitor and measure eye movement. It involves a series of tests that will help an audiologist determine how well the eyes communicate with the balance system and the brain, whether changes in position of the head causes dizziness or imbalance, and whether the balance organs are functioning equally when compared to each other.
“The patient wears the goggles throughout the whole test,” Artz said.“Each eye has its own camera, so we can look at eye movements on both eyes as we are testing the patients.”
Through VNG, it can be determined if the patient is experiencing central or peripheral balance dysfunction; from there, the appropriate referral can be made.
Imbalance could be accompanied by hearing loss, feelings of fullness or pressure in their ear, or ringing, Artz said. Additional symptoms of balance problems include:
• Sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
• Feeling of faintness or lightheadedness
• Loss of balance or unsteadiness
• Falling or feeling like you might fall
• Feeling a floating sensation or dizziness
• Vision changes, such as blurriness
If you have any of these symptoms, see your primary care provider first. They will then refer to Audiology for a further diagnosis. The patient and audiologist will review a thorough case history. Depending on their symptoms, the patient may go through a hearing test, Artz said. Then, the patient is escorted to the VNG lab for testing – which does involve getting the patient dizzy.
“We have to make them dizzy to see where the problem is,” Artz said. She suggests that patients bring someone to drive them in case the patient can’t drive, should they feel dizzy longer than expected. Results for the procedure are often interpreted within a week’s time at the latest.
After a diagnosis is made, the appropriate referrals and/or recommendations can be made, such as physical therapy; ear, nose, and throat; or neurology.
Trinity Health Audiology includes Kelsey Artz, AuD; Kylie Harris, AuD,CCC-A; Jerrica Maxson, AuD, CCC-A; and Tricia Nechodom, AuD, PASC. They are located at Health Center – West, 101 3rd Ave SW, Ste 203, Minot. For more information, call 701-857-5986.