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Physical Exam for Vertigo

Physical Exam for Vertigo

During a physical exam done to help find a cause for vertigo , the doctor will pay close attention to your ears, the motion of your eyes during the Dix-Hallpike test, and your nerve function, including your reflexes and your ability to balance while standing and walking.

Ears

The doctor will make a careful visual examination of your ears. He or she may find a buildup of earwax, which can affect your hearing, or signs of an ear infection, which can cause vertigo.

Eyes

The motion of your eyes at rest and during the Dix-Hallpike test (sometimes also called the Nylen-Barany test) can point to possible causes of vertigo.

Nerves

The doctor will do a detailed neurologic exam to check the function of your nervous system. The balance-sensing systems of your body depend on proper nerve function. Checking the function of your nervous system involves a complete neurological examination that includes testing:

  • The nerves that connect your brain with your head and neck (the cranial nerves ) and control the movement of your eyes.
  • The strength of and sensations in your arms and legs.
  • The reflexes in your arms and legs.
  • Your ability to move and control movement in your arms and legs.
  • Your ability to stand in place without swaying.
  • Your ability to walk smoothly.

The results of the physical exam and your medical history often allow the doctor to figure out the cause of your vertigo. If the results are not clear, the doctor may want to do more tests.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised December 19, 2012

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