What is the Dix-Hallpike Test?

If you are struggling with vertigo, then there are a number of different tests that your doctor may perform in order to determine the cause of your vertigo or what type of vertigo you may be dealing with. One of the many tests that your doctor may perform is known as the Dix-Hallpike test. If you are unfamiliar with this test, here is a little insight into the test, how it operates and why your doctor may perform it.

Why do doctors perform the Dix-Hallpike test?

Your doctor may perform this test if you have reported sudden issues with vertigo and state that you have experienced the following symptoms:

  • Feeling dizzy or spinning
  • Light-headedness
  • Losing balance
  • Feeling unsteady
  • Repetitive or unusual eye movements
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Feeling unsteady when getting in and out of bed

These are all signs of vertigo.

What will my doctor do during the Dix-Hallpike Test?

If your doctor is planning on performing the Dix-Hallpike test. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Your doctor will ask you to sit on the exam table with your legs stretched out.
  • Your doctor will turn your head to the side at a 45 degree angle.
  • Your doctor will help you lie back quickly with your head hanging slightly over the edge of the table. The movement will be quick.
  • Your doctor will ask you if you feel any of the signs of vertigo during this movement and will study your eyes.

After this movement, your doctor will give you a few moments to recover. What your doctor is looking for is the signs of calcium crystals in your inner ear. Inside your inner ear there are three small semicircular canals. These canals help you sense motion and maintain your balance. These canals have calcium in them and when small crystals of this calcium break off and fall into the canal, they cause vertigo. The abrupt movement in the test will move the calcium crystals and tell your doctor if this is what is causing your symptoms.

What do the results mean?

If moving your head in this way doesn’t cause any symptoms, then you doctor may do other tests to see if there is something else to blame for these symptoms. If you did feel dizzy after test, your doctor may try to get the crystals out of your canals. This can typically be done with gentle manipulations and movements that will move the crystals. Your doctor may also teach you how to do these movements on your own at home.

Typically, if this is what is causing your vertigo, it is a relatively simple and easy fix. There is no need to worry about the Dix-Hallpike test. It is relatively simple, quick and painless and can typically help you get to the bottom of your vertigo issue so you can find the relief you have been looking for.

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