Your balance (vestibular) organs are located within the inner part of your ear and play a vital role in keeping you upright and helping you to remain active. However, there are a number of conditions which can result in a balance organ problem, which usually presents as dizziness and unsteadiness.
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 space, thus enabling you to move around safely.
Our clinical scientists undertake complex tests to investigate the nature of balance organ problems and help to define the most suitable management plan for rehabilitation. Our clinicians also facilitate rehabilitation for specific balance conditions that may benefit from tailored exercise programs.
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.
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
Reading RG1 5AN
Phone: 0118 322 7238
Fax: 0118 322 7075