Your balance system is very sophisticated and made up of multiple inputs. The Balance Team within Audiology is here to assess the balance (vestibular) information sent to the brain from the ears. Our vestibular clinic is led by Audiological Scientists. We are not medically trained but are scientists specialising in hearing and balance.
In order for you to balance, your brain needs information from 3 sources: the balance organs (vestibular information), eyes (visual information) and sensors in our joints and muscles (proprioceptive information). The brain combines all of this information to work out where your head and body are in relation to your surroundings, and enables you to you move around safely by controlling eye and body movements.
As Audiology clinicians we are most interested in the function of your vestibular organs. They are located inside your ears connecting to your organ of hearing (cochlea). Each balance organ comprises of three semi-circular canals and two otolith organs (the utricle and the saccule). Together your balance organs allow you to detect movements of your head such as up and down, rotation, and tilt.
How to be referred
A GP or ENT referral is required for this service even if you are under Audiology for other reasons. Referral should be on the grounds of a suspicion of direct involvement of your vestibular system in your symptoms or to exclude a vestibular component to your symptoms.
If it is thought that your symptoms originate in another part of your balance system (and not your vestibular system) your GP will be able arrange for alterative appropriate management; a visit to the Audiology department may not be the appropriate route. For example if your concerns relate to falls or a fear of falling then it may be more appropriate to be seen by the community falls prevention team/falls clinic.
If you have previously been seen by the Audiology Balance Service a review appointment can be arranged if it is within six months of your last visit. Please contact us, if you have any questions about the details provided.
How to prepare for your appointment
Vestibular assessments can take between 1-3 hours depending on your needs. You are encouraged to arrange for someone to accompany you home after the appointment, especially as driving is not advised directly after the assessment session. You should avoid wearing make-up to your session (as this can hamper measurement taking). It is advisable to refrain from taking medications which suppress vestibular function (for example – prochlorperazine), in the 48 hours leading up to testing. However you should always consult with your GP before withdrawing medication.
West Drive Buildings
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
Phone: 0118 322 7238
Fax: 0118 322 7075