How is vestibular neuritis diagnosed?

In most patients, a diagnosis of vestibular neuritis can be made with an office visit to a vestibular specialist. These specialists include an otologist (ear doctor) or neurotologist (doctor who specializes in the nervous system related to the ear). Referral to an audiologist (hearing and vestibular [balance] clinician) may be made to perform tests to further evaluate hearing and vestibular damage. Tests to help determine if symptoms might be caused by vestibular neuritis include hearing tests, vestibular (balance) tests and a test to determine if a portion of the vestibulocochlear nerve has been damaged. Another specific test, called a head impulse test, examines how difficult it is to maintain focus on objects during rapid head movements. The presence of nystagmus, which is uncontrollable rapid eye movement, is a sign of vestibular neuritis.

If symptoms continue beyond a few weeks or become worse, other tests are performed to determine if other illnesses or diseases are causing the same symptoms. Some of these other possible health conditions include stroke, head injury, brain tumor, and migraine headache. To rule out some of the disorders of the brain, an MRI with dye (called a contrast agent) may be ordered.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/31/2019.

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