New Device Helps Diagnose Dizziness Without the Deafening Sounds

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A new device that was created by Chalmers University of Technology is said to be effective in helping diagnose dizziness without harming the patient's hearing / Photo by Getty Images

 

Dizziness is one of the most common things that people experience from time to time. It can be caused by relatively benign factors such as alcohol intake or medicines, by a migraine, or sometimes, a problem with the inner ear.

Actually identifying its main cause may not be as easy as we think, according to an article posted on medgadget.com. One of the techniques experts use to determine the cause of dizziness is called the Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP) test where the patient is made to listen to increasingly loud popping noises that cause a natural reflex in the body, making the muscles in the eyes and neck to contract briefly. By counting these contractions and monitoring the speed with which they happen, experts are able to come up with a diagnosis of the dizzy spells.

One thing that makes this method not exactly ideal is that the triggering sounds can become so loud that they can damage the patient’s hearing on top of causing a good measure of discomfort.

To address this issue, researchers from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have created a version of the VEMP device that takes away the discomfort. It uses the principle of bone conduction to trigger the vestibular system instead of creating outside sound to spare the patient’s ears from unnecessary damage. It’s a very small and carefully tuned device that vibrates, causing the patient’s skull to resonate and generate detectable sound in the ears.

The device is attached to the head of the patient, particularly near the ear. It is then made to vibrate at a frequency of 250 Hz, which is considered to be much safer and lower than the sounds used for the original VEMP test. The highest sound level that the device can emit is a mere 75 decibels, which is 40 decibels lower than the current VEMP test.

The new device has already been tested on three volunteers, and was proven to be equally capable of triggering VEMP responses just like the original but without the deafening sounds.