Balance Disorders

Specialized Treatment of Inner Ear Disorders

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Duke's vestibular disorders experts use the latest technologies to diagnose the causes of balance disorders including debilitating dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, falls, and other chronic symptoms triggered by inner-ear disorders. We offer innovative, personalized therapies to provide rapid symptom relief. 

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Diagnosing Vestibular Disorder

Comprehensive Balance Function Testing

To pinpoint the cause of your dizziness, Duke’s balance lab uses sophisticated diagnostic tests, including computerized technology that's only available at a handful of centers nationwide. This comprehensive assessment of the balance system gives precise information about how your brain is processing signals from your inner ear. The results provide an accurate diagnosis and also guide decisions about the best treatment for you. Audiologists with extensive training in balance problems conduct balance function testing and analyze the findings.

Rotational Chair

Measures how well your eyes and inner ears work together. You will sit in a dark room watching various light patterns. At times, the chair rotates while you look straight ahead and chat with the audiologist.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)

Checks for damage to the ears' vestibular nerves. The audiologist makes recordings from the muscles in your neck and/or eyes while you lie back in an exam chair and listen to sound through headphones.

Videonystagmography (VNG)

A group of tests that measure eye movements as you look at different light patterns and check for signs of balance system dysfunction. VNG testing includes the circulation of warm or cool water through your ear canal. During the exam, you’ll be asked a series of simple questions while the audiologist records eye movements stimulated by the temperature change.

Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT)

The Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT) measures how the eyes move in response to rapid head movements. You wear a device on your head that measures eye movements as the audiologist moves your head. This test allows assessment of parts of the inner ear that previously were not accessible to objective measurement.

Vestibular Disorder Treatments

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

A special form of physical therapy with specific exercises designed to train your body and brain to make up for inner-ear dysfunction, help you feel steadier on your feet, and relieve or reduce disabling symptoms.


Depending on your symptoms, treatment may include drugs to reduce nausea and motion sickness (anti-emetics) or vertigo and dizziness (vestibular suppressants such as anticholinergics, antihistamines, and benzodiazepines). In some cases, steroids or antibiotics may also be prescribed. People with migraine-associated vertigo are treated with migraine medications.


Surgery may be used to treat certain conditions that cause vertigo, including Meniere’s disease and superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS). Other balance disorders are rarely treated with surgery.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Why Choose Duke

Expert Care Produces Excellent Outcomes
Our balance assessment and treatment team includes neurotologists who specialize in vestibular disorders (inner-ear balance system), balance problems, and all forms of dizziness; PhD- and AuD-level audiologists trained in vestibular assessment; and PhD-level physical therapists who work only with vestibular rehabilitation patients.

Research on Balance Programs
Our specialists focus their research on balance problems, including migraine-associated vertigo; Meniere’s disease; chronic, disabling disequilibrium; and viral inner-ear diseases. We are conducting several studies that are providing insights aimed at improving therapies for these often disabling conditions. 

Clinical Trial Access
In addition to receiving the best available current therapies for a variety of vestibular disorders, eligible patients with targeted disorders can choose to participate in clinical trials for new treatments that may become tomorrow’s standard of care.

This page was medically reviewed on 01/05/2024 by