Symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, imbalance and lightheadedness can be disruptive and disturbing. These symptoms often result from problems in the vestibular system (the portion of the inner ear that helps control balance), but can also be related to various medical issues. Pinpointing the cause involves a thorough diagnostic approach, which includes testing the entire auditory and balance systems.
At Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, our audiology team is highly skilled in performing the evaluations necessary to help determine the cause of dizziness — and get you on track to enjoying life.
Most of our patients seeking diagnosis and treatment of balance and dizziness problems are referred by their primary care physician to the Tufts MC Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) Department.
At your first visit, you'll see one of our licensed audiologists, who will likely conduct a hearing test (if you haven't recently had one performed). The same area of the inner ear affects hearing and imbalance, so the test may provide clues about the source of your symptoms.
You'll also see a Tufts MC otologist or otolaryngologist in conjunction with the hearing test. Sometimes a patient's symptoms may be related to an issue in the brain. In these cases, we may work as a team with a Tufts MC neurologist to determine what neurological tests are needed.
Based on the recommendations of your otologist or otolaryngologist, we may have you come back for further testing. We offer all standard balance evaluations, including:
The experience of our audiologists helps us to interpret your test results accurately. It also helps us ensure the evaluation goes as smoothly as possible for you. VNG, for example, can cause symptoms such as nausea. We are sensitive to how each patient reacts to the test and make the necessary adjustments to minimize unpleasant side effects.
Ultimately, your Tufts MC doctor — otologist, otolaryngologist or neurologist — will make a diagnosis and recommend a personalized treatment plan.
If you suffer from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the Vestibular Evaluations Service may be able to help. BPPV, a common inner ear disorder, produces sudden episodes of vertigo when you move your head.
As part of your vestibular evaluation, the otologist and/or audiologist will test specifically for BPPV. Our team uses the canalith repositioning procedure (CRP) to treat this condition. CRP only takes about 30 minutes to complete, and we can perform it right here in our offices. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, CRP has a cure rate of about 80 percent.
We offer combined otologic and audiologic evaluations in the Otolaryngology Department. Based on the outcome of the initial evaluation, further vestibular testing may be indicated.
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