Dizzy? Falling Down? Check Out Your Balance with VNG Testing

If you have a tendency to fall down, or experience regular dizziness, unsteadiness, or a sense of spinning, moving, or floating, the culprit may be your inner ear.

Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by the vestibular system, an intricate structure deep inside your ear. Vestibular dysfunctions, or inner ear disorders, lead to symptoms like dizziness and falling, and they affect over 60 million men and women in the U.S.

Have you ever experienced vertigo—the sense that the room is spinning around you, or that you’re whirling around in space? An inner ear disorder might be to blame.

Thankfully, there’s a way to get your inner ear and sense of balance checked out at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat, and while it’s a very long name, the process for treatment is actually quite simple. It’s called Videonystagmography Testing.

The “VNG test” for short accurately diagnoses inner ear disorders so that we may determine the source of the issues you’re experiencing, determine the best possible treatment, and get you standing back up on your own two feet.

How VNG Testing Works

This may sound counterintuitive, but the balance mechanisms in your inner ear are connected to the muscles in your eye via neural circuits. So don’t be surprised that the VNG test includes an examination of your eye movement—it’s all linked.

At St. Augustine, you’ll put on a pair of goggles with a camera attached, and the camera will record the quick jerks of your eye during a series of varied activities. The VNG test will also detect small eye jerks that are the result of inner ear disorders.

Next, the Technician will check your balance mechanism with a series of activities that include shaking your head, glancing between two points, following moving lights with your eyes, lying in specific positions, and quickly sitting up, among other physical movements.

The test concludes by examining the way your inner ear’s balance mechanisms respond to stimulation. Warm and cool air will be gently put into your ear canal, and the response frin your ear muscles will be monitored.

Why the VNT Test is Unique

VNG (let’s say it again: Videonystagmography!) is the only test that can tell the difference between a problem in one ear vs. a problem in both ears.

How Should I Prepare for the VNG Test?

To ensure you have the best possible VNG testing experience at SAENT, make sure you do the following:

  • Dress comfortably.
  • No eye makeup (no eyeliner, no eye shadow, no mascara!).
  • Don’t drink any form of alcohol for 48 hours before the test.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything (except water) for 3 hours before the test, unless you’re diabetic.
  • Don’t smoke for 3 hours before the test.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages—coffee, tea, soda—for 12 hours before the test.
  • Certain medications must be avoided before the test, such as sleeping pills, anti-vertigo medications, tranquilizers, diuretics, sedatives, barbiturates, anti-depressants, anti-nausea medications, antihistamines, narcotics, anti-anxiety medications, and pain medication.

Please discuss time frame, specific medications, etc. with your physician. Don’t discontinue prescription medications before consulting with the doctor who prescribed them to you!

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Amy D. Dugan, PA-C joins SAENT as Resident Physician Assistant

It is with great pleasure and pride that we welcome Amy D. Dugan, PA-C to the St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat team! Amy has been practicing medicine as a Physician Assistant (PA) in the Jacksonville, Florida area for more than ten years, and we’re delighted that she’s decided to join our office.

In her last post which she had held since 2005, Amy practiced as a PA for Michelle McLanahan, MD of Jacksonville, Florida, performing rounds for OB-Gyn patients at St. Luke’s Hospital. Her daily activities included evaluating incoming and resident patients, performing colposcopies, inductions, and assisting Dr. McLanahan in various procedures.

Prior to her position with Dr. McLanahan, Amy practiced as a PA for a handful of prominent physicians and offices in the Jacksonville area. Among those she closely worked with include Lionel J. Gatien, D.O.; Infectious Disease Consultants; First Coast Cardiovascular Institute; and Critical Care Consultants.

The experience, education, and training Amy brings to the team at SAENT is quite insurmountable. She holds her Physician Assistant Certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physical Assistants, (NCCPA) the governing licensure board for those in her specialized line of work.

Students graduating from an accredited Physician Assistant program, meeting the accreditation standards set forth by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, may then apply for and take the NCCPA exam. Once certified, those holding the PA-C designation are then required to undergo extensive continuing education and accreditation, lasting no less than 6 years.

Amy graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 1997, and in 1999 received her Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistance from Tevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN.

She completed many preceptorships (the equivalent of an internship for physicians) at world-class institutions including Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, FL; Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, TN; St. Joseph’s Health Center in Charles, MO; and within the pediatrics unit at Blanchfield Army Hospital in Clarksville, TN.

We’re extremely grateful to offer Amy a permanent home here at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat. Her high-caliber training and qualifications offer our patients the care and attention they deserve each and every time they step through our doors, and her practice as a Physician Assistant brings to our team a dynamic element that rounds out a diverse team that we believe quite simply cannot be found anywhere else in Jacksonville.

If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, please take a moment to visit our website.

There’s a New Sheriff in Town: Introducing Visi-Pitch IV

Something really powerful has arrived in the Voice Lab at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat. We’ve expanded our space to include the new, state-of-the-art Visi-Pitch IV—a speech therapy tool that collects, graphs, and summarizes data so that our in-house speech language pathologists can better treat you and your voice problems.

What Exactly Is Visi-Pitch IV?

The Visi-Pitch technology is known for its highly-effective visual displays that present information such as vocal pitch, amplitude, and other speech and voice-related measurements graphically and auditorially.

The visual element means that we can measure and analyze your voice and speech parameters and disabilities for future comparison and analysis following treatment at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat. Tracking your clinical progress is easier, faster, and now, more accurate.

An important part of the Visi-Pitch that differentiates the new model from previous releases and competitors is the ability to extract objective quantitative values from vocal functions.

Looking for some plain English? The tool helps us profile your voice (for example, before and after surgery), compare it to other data, and continually track your improvement in the weeks and months during or following recovery.

The software that is used to extract these objective measurements is often praised in professional medical journals for its robustness and accuracy, superior interpretation of data, and sophistication.

Because the device allows Dr. DePasquale to compare and correlate both the visual and auditory data-mining and playback features that come with the Visi-Pitch IV, your therapy goals will become drastically easier to reach.

More Product Highlights and Features

Visi-Pitch comes with a built-in Voice Games feature that uses catchy and engaging animation to capture the attention of children who undergo speech therapy or recovery following major surgery.

The software is a fantastic tool for motivating and rewarding our children for improvements made during our sessions together, which leads to accelerated results in almost all cases.

Another important element is the high-fidelity audio playback, which enables you and the speech pathologist and Dr. DePasquale at SAENT to listen back on the work we’ve done together, helping you as patient better understand the value of the treatment.

You’ll immediately recognize obvious improvements and progress with the playback, which can help to instill a greater sense of confidence and accomplishment in your treatment processes.

A Real-Time Spectrogram is also included with the Visi-Pitch, which is a tool that gives us a three-dimensional display (e.g., a spectrogram) of speech signals.

It’s yet another way that our clinicians can analyze and assess your vocal profile. Because vocal profiles vary tremendously from patient to patient in terms of what treatment is needed, when, and how, these highly-specialized tools allow us to work much more efficiently.

The Real-Time spectrogram can also be used for articulation training and identifying causes and treatments for dysphonic voices (a voice impairment that feel or sounds breathy, hoarse, or rough).

Should You Consider Trying Visi-Pitch?

 The Visi-Pitch tool is designed for use on the following disorders and impairments, all of which we offers treatment and therapy for at SAENT:

  • Voice Disorders
  • Professional Voice
  • Accent Reduction

If you’re interested in learning more about the services we perform with the Visi-Pitch, or to schedule an appointment with our board-certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Kalpana DePasquale, please click here.

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