Vestibular Hypofunction - Symptoms And Diagnosis

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 04/08/2023

Balance disorders can occur at any age but most commonly affect the older demographic. Vestibular hypofunction is a condition that causes dizzy spells followed by impaired hearing. It can be a complex condition for anyone to manage.

It’s often defined as an inner ear malfunction that can impair your hearing and affect your balance. In over 50% of the cases, the cause is unknown, making treating this condition all the more difficult. In addition, treatment and diagnosis of this condition can be expensive.

A good health insurance policy should provide coverage for most of your medical expenses - treatments and tests included. Critical illness insurance plans are a great option if you’re looking for maximum coverage.

What Is Vestibular Hypofunction - Vestibular Hypofunction Meaning

Your ear is made up of a network of canals that are filled with fluid. The position of this fluid can affect your balance. This fluid and other delicate pieces form your vestibular system. Hypofunction vestibular is a condition that affects this area, namely the vestibulocochlear nerve in your inner ear.

The vestibular area in your inner ear works with your eye muscles to maintain balance. When that nerve is affected, it can disrupt the signals sent to your brain, causing dizziness.

This condition affects your balance, especially on uneven surfaces and in dark places. In addition, it can affect your ability to see when turning/moving your head. This leads to an increased risk of falling, blurry vision, dizziness, loss of balance and a deterioration in your physical and mental well-being.

Vestibular Hypofunction Causes

The most common causes of this condition are:

  • Labyrinthitis Or Vestibular Neuritis (Caused By Viral Infections)

  • Previous Inner Ear Conditions Or Poor Circulation

  • Changes In The Balance Systems Associated With Ageing

  • Medications

  • Head Injury, Blood Clots Or Tumours

Vestibular Hypofunction Symptoms

Of the causes stated, vestibular neuritis is the most common cause. Typically, people with this condition go through acute and chronic phases.

This means you will face sudden severe symptoms for a week and milder symptoms that can last anywhere between a few weeks to a few months. In rare cases, someone can be afflicted with vestibular hypofunction for several years.

The Symptoms In The Initial Phase

  • Sudden, severe vertigo (a spinning sensation).

  • Intense dizziness (feeling lightheaded or unsteady).

  • Severe balance issues.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Severe motion sensitivity.

  • Nystagmus - a condition where you can’t control your eye movements.

Symptoms Of The Chronic Phase

  • Lightheadedness.

  • Mild dizziness with head and body movements.

  • Mild nausea.

  • A little difficulty with walking, especially in busy environments.

  • A feeling of fullness in your ears.

  • Mild motion sensitivity.

  • Anxiety.

  • Depression.

Keep in mind that symptoms can vary from person to person. In addition, your symptoms can depend on many factors, like the exact cause and the area of nerve damage, along with your medical history.

Vestibular Hypofunction Diagnosis

Generally, ENTs are responsible for diagnosing this condition. However, some people are referred to neurologists (brain and nervous system specialists) or audiologists (hearing specialists).

These first tests are used to rule out other possible conditions like:

  • Stroke.

  • Head injury.

  • Brain tumour.

  • Migraine headaches.

These conditions are usually ruled out by running an MRI scan or other similar imaging tests.

Other Tests Performed:

  • Hearing exam

  • Vision exam

  • Blood tests

  • Imaging tests of the head and brain

  • Clinical tests of balance

  • Tests to locate the areas of damage on your vestibular nerve

  • Posturography (an exam used to look at your posture and movement)

Vestibular Hypofunction Treatment - Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)

Treatments for vestibular hypofunction will vary depending on your diagnosis. However, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is the standard treatment for this condition. This treatment is designed to address this condition’s primary and secondary symptoms.

It will involve the specialised head, body and eye exercises to retrain your brain to perceive and process vestibular system signals. The exact activities and treatment format will vary from person to person and depend on the diagnosis.

Other Treatments For Vestibular Hypofunction

Treating Any Underlying Causes

Vestibular Hypofunction can be caused by labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis - which is usually caused by viral infections like:

  • COVID-19.

  • Flu (influenza).

  • Polio.

  • Hepatitis.

  • Measles.

  • Mumps.

The Herpes simplex virus (the same virus that causes cold sores).

It can even be a result of an ear infection. Treating those infections first will help alleviate most if not all, symptoms.

Home-Based Exercises

Exercising plays a crucial part when developing balance. A physical therapist will offer the best exercises to help you regain and retrain your balance. In addition, these programs are designed to help you lower stress levels and boost energy.


Different medications will be used depending on what phase of symptoms you’re currently experiencing (acute or chronic). For example, having Vestibular Hypofunction can severely impact the quality of your life, leading to depression or anxiety.

Therefore, doctors often prescribe medication to help deal with these additional conditions and are also prescribed medication to help regulate their symptoms.


Surgery is a final option if no improvement is observed under any of the prescribed treatments. The surgery needed will depend on the patient’s physical health and diagnosis. Corrective surgery aims to restore the inner ear’s function fully.

Remember, surgery can be a cure, but it can also worsen the condition. So before going through any procedure, always discuss the potential risks with your doctor.


As you can see, vestibular hypofunction requires consistent treatment to see improvement. It’s a condition that can seriously impact your ability to perform daily tasks like driving, work and recreational activities. However, proper treatment is costly for most patients.

Tata AIG’s health insurance plans help alleviate this financial burden that comes with costly medical treatments. A critical illness insurance plan provides the best coverage for vestibular hypofunction and other chronic conditions. This will give you the best chance at recovery at an affordable rate.

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

Related Articles

Tata AIG Also Offers Insurance for the below products

Two Wheeler Insurance

Travel Insurance

Car Insurance

Health Insurance