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How is a balance disorder diagnosed?

Balance disorders are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are shared with many other conditions. In addition, there are many potential causes, including past medical conditions and medications. So it is important to give your doctor as much information as possible about your symptoms, medical history and medications. 

Consulting your GP

When you first see your GP, you may be asked a series of questions, such as what your symptoms feel like, what situation you are in when they happen and how often they occur. Some balance disorders can be treated by your GP, but for others you may be referred to a medical specialist – either an otolaryngologist (ENT surgeon) or a neuro-otologist (neurologist or ENT surgeon).

Referral to a medical specialist

If you are referred to a medical specialist, you will again be asked a series of questions and you may need to complete a questionnaire. Based on a medical examination and initial assessment of your condition, the specialist may request one or more tests.

Your GP can access guidelines on how to refer to the Eye and Ear by clicking here.

For more information about the tests carried out at the Eye and Ear, refer to the detailed information found under What can I expect when I visit the Eye and Ear for a balance disorder?

Dr David Szmulewicz (Neurologist)

How you can help your doctor make a diagnosis

Your doctor will need as much information as possible about your symptoms, past medical history and current medications. When you attend a specialist appointment at the Eye and Ear, you will need to bring:

  • a GP referral letter that includes:
    • information about your symptoms
    • a summary of recent test results
    • details of any treatments that have been carried out
    • a list of any existing or past medical conditions
    • an up-to-date list of your current (or recent) medications
  • your appointment letter
  • all your medications with you in a bag in case one has been left off the list
  • the written results of any tests if you have them, including blood test results, scans and audiology tests
  • your Medicare card
  • the name and address of any doctors you see, including GPs and specialists.

If it is your first appointment, you will be asked to complete this questionnaire while you are waiting for your appointment. However, you can print it off, complete it at home, and bring it with you to the appointment if you prefer.