Balance is the ability to maintain the body’s center over its base of support. It allows us to see while moving, identify their orientation, determine direction and speed of movement, and adapt posture to different environments and activities. The balance system is comprised of vision, touch and the vestibular system located in the ear.
When the balance system is not functioning properly, patients may have problems with dizziness, vertigo, falling and hearing loss. If you are experiencing any of these problems, you should contact your doctor to schedule a balance test.
If you or someone you care for is experiencing balance problems, it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor such as an ENT specialist and have the cause diagnosed. Please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4320 to schedule an appointment.
Dizziness & Vertigo
While dizziness and vertigo may accompany one another, they are two different symptoms of a condition or disorder. Dizziness is the feeling of being lightheaded, woozy or nearly fainting.
Vertigo is a sensation a person feels when they or the objects around them are moving. Symptoms of vertigo may include spinning, dizziness, tilting, swaying or being pulled in one direction. These symptoms may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweating or difficulty walking.
When a patient is experiencing balance problems such as dizziness or vertigo, a provider will use the patient’s medical history and perform a physical exam that will serve as the basis for ordering diagnostic balance tests. These tests measure the ability and function of the vestibular system and hearing to find the underlying cause the balance problem.
Benign Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation when a person feels that they or the objects around them are moving.
BPPV is caused by a mechanical problem in the inner ear. When calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in the utricle part of the inner ear become dislodged, they can migrate into the balance canals where they are not supposed to be. This interferes with the fluid in the canals that helps sense head motion, and false balance signals are sent to the brain.
Balance is often taken for granted, but it can be tiring and dangerous when balance is impaired. Balance helps humans see clearly while moving, identify orientation, determine direction and speed of movement, and make posture adjustments for different conditions and activities. It is controlled by vision, touch and the vestibular system.
Videonystagmography or VNG is a test that examines the balance system. It can be used to determine the cause of a patient’s dizziness if it can be attributed to a vestibular disorder.
VNG testing uses a combination of video goggles and infrared cameras to measure involuntary eye movements. While the patient is given a series of visual tasks, the camera records their eye movements. These rapid eye movements can only be captured using high-tech equipment and can indicate a balance system disorder.