Dizziness (Vertigo) and Balance Problems: Diagnostic Tests

An otolaryngologist specializes in problems of the ear, nose, and throat. This healthcare provider is also called an ENT. Your ENT can help find clues to the cause of your dizziness. They'll give you an exam and go over your past health. You may need certain tests to help diagnose your problem.

Healthcare provider examining man’s ear with scope.

Hearing testing

In most cases, you'll be sent for hearing testing. This is because the nerve that sends balance signals also sends hearing signals. A problem that affects balance can also affect hearing.

Other tests

Your ENT may advise more than 1 kind of test. These tests don't cause pain. But they may make you dizzy in some cases.

  • MRI. This test makes images of the ear or head. A magnetic field and contrast medium are used to make the image.

  • Electronystagmography (ENG). This test records eye movement. Small electrodes are put on the skin around your eyes. Then your ear is filled with warm or cold water. This normally causes the eyes to move rapidly in 1 direction (nystagmus) .

  • Rotation tests. These show the relationship between the inner ear and your eyes. You may be asked to wear special goggles or sit in a special chair.

  • Posturography. This tests your standing balance under different conditions. You'll stand on a platform. It measures shifts in your body weight. 

  • Electrocochleography (ECoG). This test measures the fluid pressure in the inner ear. An abnormal ECoG may mean you have Meniere's disease or other health problems.

  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs). This test may be used if your ENT suspects a rare condition like superior semicircular canal dehiscence. This is a hole in the bone that covers the part of the inner ear where fluid circulates and regulates balance. For this test, electrodes are placed on your neck. You hear clicks in your ear.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
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