One of the most common questions asked by patients that are referred to an ENT due to dizziness, is why do I need a hearing test? I have vertigo, I’m dizzy, it feels like I am floating/spinning/ lightheaded, but I do not have hearing loss so why do we need to complete one?
Dizziness is not black and white. There are many different types of dizziness which means there are many different treatments, depending on the diagnosis. Some most common ones are BPPV or Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, autoimmune inner ear disease, cholesteatomas, vestibular migraines, just to name a few. In order to treat the dizzy symptoms, as a team, an audiologist, ENT provider, and physical therapists have to compile different tests in order to adequately determine what is causing the dizziness. One of those tests is a hearing evaluation.
Our ears are the pathway to our vestibular or balance system. Our ears can tell the providers a lot about your dizziness or what it may be caused by. Any degree of hearing loss, fluctuating hearing loss, low frequency or high frequency hearing loss, sudden hearing loss, or asymmetric hearing loss, are all going to indicate a different diagnosis and a different treatment plan. For instance symptoms of Meniere’s disease include fluctuating hearing loss, roaring noise in the ears, and spinning sensation. This disease is going to be treated differently than BPPV, which usually does not affect ones hearing.
Once the hearing test is complete, the ENT provider will assess the patient further. Many times, depending on symptoms, the patient will be referred for further testing. These further tests include tests specific for balance such as a VNG or EcoG, or imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to determine whether there are any abnormal growths along the auditory, vestibular or brainstem pathway or if the dizziness is peripheral or centrally located.