Your First Visit

When you visit the UPMC Center for Balance Disorders, a team of experts will be available to you. The team works together to evaluate and treat your balance disorders.

Your Medical History

Prior to your first office visit, you will be asked to complete a medical history background questionnaire, a dizziness questionnaire, and a dizziness handicap inventory. You will be asked about your general health, medical background, and family history so that we will be able to gain insight into any associated or familial problems that might be related to your current condition. You will also be asked to describe your dizziness or imbalance, when it began, its symptoms, and how it is affecting you.

You will be asked to bring previous laboratory and imaging test results with you to your visit, or you will be asked to help us obtain this information prior to your visit. You may be interviewed by the clinical coordinator, a registered nurse, regarding the details of your complaints. During this time you and the clinical coordinator will review your responses on the questionnaire.

Vestibular (Balance) Laboratory Evaluation

An important part of the evaluation of your balance system is testing in the Vestibular (Balance) Laboratory. There are several different tests such as ocular motor screening and vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs), among others, that may be performed depending on which tests your doctor believes are necessary. All of the tests will provide information about your balance system. Read more about the Vestibular Laboratory.

The Physical Examination

An important part of the evaluation of your balance system is a physical examination by your doctor at the center. He or she will examine you by testing your ability to balance when walking and by assessing several functions like strength and coordination.

Auditory Examination

Your hearing will be measured by a certified audiologist (a professional who evaluates hearing function). The audiologist will determine how loud sounds need to be for you to hear them. The audiologist also will determine whether you can understand simple words to find out if you can hear speech properly.

Measuring your hearing is important because many problems with the balance system are associated with hearing problems. By measuring your hearing, your doctor can better determine why you are having a balance problem.

The Results of Your Visit

You will receive a detailed explanation of the findings of the examination, treatment options, and a specific treatment plan. Depending on the treatment plan, you may be:

  • Prescribed medicine
  • Asked to change your diet
  • Scheduled for balance physical therapy
  • Scheduled for imaging or other tests to provide your doctor with additional diagnostic information
  • Referred to another specialist

Your primary care doctor will be given a letter that includes the results of your tests.

Other Websites to Visit

American Hearing Research Foundation
http://www.american-hearing.org

Vestibular Disorders Association
http://www.vestibular.org

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