Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To pinpoint what's causing your symptoms, you may be asked to tip your head back or lie on a particular side in the exam room so that your doctor can observe you.

You may need additional tests in a vestibular and balance laboratory, including:

  • Eye movement testing. Your doctor may watch the path of your eyes when you track a moving object. You may also be given what's called a caloric test, in which the movement of your eyes is observed when cold and warm water are placed in your ear canal at different times.
  • Posturography testing. This test tells your doctor which parts of the balance system you rely on the most and which parts may be giving you problems. You stand in your bare feet on a platform and try to keep your balance under various conditions.
  • Rotary-chair testing. During this test, you sit in a computer-controlled chair that moves very slowly in a full circle. At faster speeds, it moves back and forth in a very small arc.

In some cases, you may need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your head and body. Your doctor can use these detailed, clear images to identify and diagnose a wide range of conditions. MRI may be performed to rule out acoustic neuroma — a noncancerous brain tumor of the vestibular nerve, which carries sound from the inner ear to the brain — or other abnormalities in the brain that may be the cause of vertigo.

Even if no cause is found or if your dizziness persists, prescription drugs and other treatments may make your symptoms more manageable.

Sep. 06, 2012