More than 2 million people visit the doctor each year with complaints of dizziness, vertigo or motion sickness. In fact, balance disorders are the number one health complaint of patients over the age of 70, and they are the cause of 50 percent of falls experienced by the elderly.
Your body maintains its balance, or equilibrium, through a complex relationship with many parts of the body, including the inner and middle ear. Less than ten percent of patients with balance and vestibular disorders are ever evaluated by a specialist. At The Comprehensive ENT Center of Texas, our highly trained audiologist, Dr. Brandee Richardson, uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to evaluate each patient and plan a customized course of treatment.
The most common balance complaint is peripheral vertigo. This is usually caused by inner ear inflammation from a cold or virus. Other common inner ear disorders that may elicit vertigo, dizziness or disequilirium include:
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is caused by problems in the inner ear. This is most commonly caused by calcium particles that have broken off from otoliths, or stones, located in the utricle that have slipped into the semi-circular canals. Symptoms include repeated episodes of short-term vertigo, a spinning sensation that is provoked by a change in the position of the head.
If you are experiencing problems with your balance or you are feeling dizzy, VNG tests will help determine if a vestibular (inner ear) disease is the cause of your imbalance. The VNG test will evaluate nystagmus, or involuntary rapid eye movement. Infrared goggles monitor and record eye movement at rest, after changes in head position and in response to various stimuli. Analysis of the patter of eye movements during this test will help distinguish between abnormalities in the vestibular system, brainstem and cerebellum.
There are three parts to VNG testing:
Oculomotor Testing - These may indicate a central or neurological problem, or a problem in the pathway connecting the vestibular system to the brain.
Positional/Positioning Nystagmus - This test examines your inner ear system and the condition of the endolymph fluid in your semicircular canals. Dr. Gonzalez will verify that small calcium particles, called otoconia, are not suspended in the fluid, causing a disturbance in the flow.
Caloric Study - This test assesses the function of the vestibular nerve for each ear by stimulating the ears with hot and cold air. This stimulation normally causes involuntary movements of both eyes (nystagmus). If the labyrinth is diseased, no nystagmus is induced. This test is the only test that can determine whether the vestibular deficit is unilateral or bilateral. Additionally, this test helps to differentiate between vestibular abnormalities and cerebellar or brainstem disorders.
Because hearing and balance functions of your inner ear are closely related, a hearing test will be administered prior to the VNG.
Physicians who specialize in otolaryngology diagnose and treat conditions of the ear, nose, throat and head and neck disorders. Commonly referred to as ENT physicians, otolaryngologists like Dr. Leeman are trained in head and neck surgery, as well as medical management for patients with hearing, balance, speech, voice, taste and smell disorders.
Yes, our physician provides leading care to patients of all ages, including children.
Our highly trained surgeons perform procedures to alleviate disorders and injuries of the ear, nose and throat, as well as the head and neck and related structures. Common procedures include septoplasty, sinuplasty, tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, reconstructive facial surgery and the removal of cancers.
Yes, our physicians can perform tests to determine the substances to which you are allergic and your sensitivity to each. Dr. Leeman will then prescribe a treatment method to manage your specific needs.
Depending on the cause of your snoring, our ENT specialists can employ methods to correct the issue. Treatment options include modifying your diet and lifestyle, medication and surgery.
Yes, our licensed audiologist, Dr. Deyanira Gonzalez, can perform a hearing evaluation to assess hearing loss determine which hearing aid is best suited to your lifestyle.
We accept and file most insurance, because we want you focused on your health, not your finances. Some of our accepted insurance carriers include:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
Coordinated Care Network
National Choice Care
Private Healthcare Systems
Seton Health Plan
Teachers Retirement System
Some insurance providers do require a referral in order to cover a visit to specialist like Dr. Leeman. If you are unsure of your coverage, please contact your health insurance provider.