Balance problems can cause some serious complications, especially if they are frequent or severe. The risk of falls, broken bones or other injuries are greatly increased if an individual suffers from a loss of balance. Oftentimes this condition is caused by inner ear problems, medications or other medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease. Balance issues are frequently accompanied by a feeling of dizziness or spinning which can lead to nausea and vomiting. If an individual suffers from balance issues or dizziness, their physician will generally order a videonystagmography or VNG test to help determine the cause.
A VNG test is a valuable diagnostic tool that can more accurately determine the root cause of your balance or dizziness problems; it can determine whether the dizziness, vertigo or balance problems are caused by a vestibular (inner ear) condition or something else. It is one of the only tests that has the ability to decipher between unilateral or bilateral vestibular conditions. It also can determine if the issue is due to a peripheral pathology, central pathology or a combination of the two. So what happens during a VNG test?
Here at Advanced Hearing Group, we are able to perform VNG testing right here in the office and will typically work with a team of specialists who help diagnose and treat vestibular disorders. If you have been scheduled for a VNG test, it is nothing to fear – It is a painless, noninvasive procedure and is usually completed in just about an hour.
A VNG test is actually a series of tests that document how well the eyes respond to stimulus from the vestibular system. The test will also check the functionality of each ear to determine if a vestibular deficit could be the source of the balance or dizziness problem. Everyday Hearing did a great job of breaking down the test into the following descriptive parts:
- Sensory organization testing – During the testing you will be asked to walk or stand in various conditions. With eyes open and closed and on different surfaces. This is used to determine how well your sensory systems are working together to maintain balance. It is unlikely that you will feel dizzy during this part of the test but you may lose your balance.
- Ocular motor testing – During this portion of the testing you will be asked to follow a light with your eyes. The light will be moving across a bar in front of your, or inside the goggles. The light will be moving quickly in different directions. This part of the test may make you slightly dizzy.
- Positioning/Positional testing – With assistance from your test proctor, you will be asked to move your head and body in a series of positions. This includes head movements up and down, side to side, and body movements sitting up, laying down, and turning on your side. You will be instructed on whether to open or close your eyes during the movements, while your eyes are being recorded. During this part of the test, you may experience dizziness and/or vertigo. This is more likely to occur if your initial symptoms of dizziness are triggered by movement.
- Caloric testing – This portion of the testing is usually done at the end. You will be laying on your back while cool and warm air or water is delivered to your ear canal, one at a time, warm in each ear followed by cool in each ear. This is a very important part of the testing that will stimulate each vestibular system, right ear and left ear, and compare the response between the ears. It helps to determine whether the vestibular organs are functioning properly and whether one system is significantly weaker than the other. The air or water will stay in your ear for about 1 minute each time. Once it is removed, your eye movements will be recorded for an additional minute. It is important to follow the instruction of the test proctor during this time as to whether your eyes should remain opened or closed in order to avoid the need for repeat testing. During this portion of the test, it is likely that you will experience dizziness and vertigo. This will only remain for a few minutes following each ear stimulation. It is normal to be dizzy during caloric testing.
If you are looking to schedule a VNG test or have more information on the types of testing we can provide, you can visit our website for a list of services, as well as our office locations and phone numbers.