Glossary of Terms
Aura: Often associated with migraines or seizures. An aura sometimes signals the beginning of an episode with the sensation of light or a tactile sensation.
Audiogram: The final, chart form of a hearing test.
Auditory: Having to do with hearing.
Balance Retaining Therapy: The process by which the components of the balance system are exercised and thusly strengthened. Balance retraining therapy is the most effective option available for the dizzy or imbalanced patient in the vast majority of cases, per studies conducted using evidence-based medicine.
Cochlea: The snail-shaped portion of the inner hear housing the hair cells used in hearing.
CDP: Computerized Dynamic Posturography. Developed at NASA, CDP assesses a person's ability to use their vision, inner ear, and proprioceptive (think feel your body in space) abilities. Not only is CDP a great screener for balance problems, but it measure reaction times and serves as a stellar guide in formulating customized balance retraining programs.
Disequilibrium: Unsteadiness or imbalance. The factors causing disequilibrium are similar to dizziness involving poor or inaccurate information being transmitted to the brain.
Dizziness: Dizziness is a vague term. At the clinical level, distinguishing between chronic dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness, motion-induced, limited mobility, migrainous dizziness, and pre-fainting are distinguished from one another.
Eustachian tube: Is the pressure control valve between the middle ear space and the back of the throat. Poor function of the Eustachian tube will often cause feelings of fullness and pressure in the ear.
Labyrinthitis: An infection of of inner ear system, including both the cochlear (hearing) portion and the vestibular (balance) components.
Peripheral vestibular system: The central nervous system often contributes to dizziness -- i.e., problems in nerve conduction, neural messages coming into or out of the brain. The term peripheral specifically applies to issues with the semicircular canals and macular organs of the inner ear. Generally speaking, replacing the phrase peripheral nervous system with 'inner ear balance function' will make understanding the term peripheral vestibular system easier.
Saccule: One of the five balance organs on each side of the hear. The saccule will sometimes be referred to as a macular organ. The saccule plays a large role in sensing vertical, up and down motion as part of the balance system.
Tinnitus: Ear noises that are described as ringing, crickets, or other types of noises. Vertigo: The perception of movement. For dizzy patients we distinguish between the sensation of the person moving versus the surroundings moving.
VAT: Vestibulo-autorotational testing. A test battery designed to analyze the vestibulo-ocular reflex or VOR. The VOR is the mechanism by which allows an object to appear still despite a patients head moving. The VAT helps us understand the degree to which the VOR is in synch or out of synch. The VAT looks at slow head movements all the way to very fast movements. For example, if staring at an object and your head moves to the right, your VOR should move your eyes to the left (exactly opposite) to maintain the perception of stillness compensating for head movement.
VNG: Videoelectronystagmography. A test battery designed to make inferences regarding the inner ear made by measuring and recording eye movements. The VNG is one of the gold standard test used by ENT physicians to assess vestibular functioning.
VOR: Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex. The VOR is the reflex that maintains the perception that objects are still while our head is in motion. Without the VOR, the world would be a blur unless your head was perfectly still all the time. Balance and dizziness testing involves both direct and indirect assessment of the VOR as an essential component of a healthy balance system.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy: The process by which the components of the balance system are exercised and thusly strengthened. Balance retraining therapy is the most effective option available for the dizzy or imbalanced patient in the vast majority of cases, per studies conducted using evidence-based medicine.