How to Tell Which Ear is Causing Vertigo: A Comprehensive Guide


Vertigo is a condition characterized by a sensation of dizziness, spinning, or tilting of the environment around a person. It can be quite debilitating and can impact a person’s ability to carry out their daily tasks. Identifying which ear is responsible for causing vertigo is crucial to receiving proper medical treatment, making it essential for patients to have a good understanding of how to determine the affected ear.

Inner Ear and Vertigo

The inner ear plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and equilibrium in the body. This part of the ear contains fluid-filled chambers, which are responsible for sending signals to the brain about the body’s position. When there is a problem with this system, it can result in dizziness or vertigo.

Thus, identifying the affected ear is essential to determine the source of the problem in the inner ear. Additionally, it can help the doctor implement targeted treatment measures to correct the issue.

Symptoms of Vertigo and Identifying the Affected Ear

There are several common symptoms of vertigo, which include:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Spinning sensation
  • Feeling off-balance
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sweating

It can be challenging to determine which ear is responsible for causing vertigo based on these symptoms alone. However, some other factors can aid in identifying the affected ear.

One common factor to identify the affected ear responsible for vertigo is by looking towards the direction where the spinning starts. If the spinning sensation starts from the left, then the left ear is most likely affected. If it starts from the right, it is most likely the right one. Another factor to consider is the position people usually take due to the discomfort. For example, people suffering from vertigo may turn their head to one side or put their head down to reduce the symptoms.

Physical Tests and Manuevers

A doctor may perform several physical tests to help identify the affected ear or diagnose the cause of vertigo.

The most widely used physical test to diagnose the affected ear responsible for vertigo is Dix-Hallpike testing. In this case, the patient will sit on a table, and the examiner will make the patient’s head turn towards one side and lie down quickly. If vertigo is confirmed, it will occur during this maneuver, and it will be clear which ear is causing the symptoms.

Another physical test is Roll Test, By performing a Roll test, the doctor rotates the patient’s head 180 degrees in one direction, holds it for 30 seconds, and then rotates the head in the opposite direction. Based on what happens during this maneuver, the doctor will identify the affected ear and make an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnostic Tools

Medical professionals also use specialized diagnostic tools in identifying the affected ear responsible for vertigo, such as electronystagmography (ENG) and videonystagmography (VNG). These tests measure how the eyes respond to various stimuli by detecting their nystagmus (involuntary eye movements).

ENG records the eye movements of patients using electrodes attached to various parts of the face. On the other hand, VNG relies on specialized cameras to capture the eye movements. With the information obtained from these tests, medical professionals can determine which ear is affected precisely.

Treatment Options

Identifying the affected ear is essential in establishing a suitable treatment plan for vertigo. The most common treatments used to treat vertigo include medication, such as antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs, and vestibular suppressants. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Additionally, exercises like the Brandt-Daroff exercise or the Epley maneuver can help reposition displaced calcium carbonate crystals and alleviate vertigo symptoms.

Managing Vertigo Symptoms

While medical treatment is essential, many simple steps can be taken to manage vertigo symptoms effectively. These steps include:

  • Adopting a proper sleeping and sitting posture
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
  • Taking breaks if working in stressful conditions
  • Reduction of caffeine intake


Vertigo can significantly impact a person’s daily life, making it essential to diagnose and address it promptly. By identifying the affected ear responsible for causing symptoms of vertigo, a doctor can prescribe targeted treatment measures to alleviate the symptoms and prevent severe complications. Anyone experiencing symptoms of vertigo should seek medical attention immediately.

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