Dizziness in the elderly: Diagnosing its causes in a multidisciplinary dizziness unit

May 7, 2014
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Abstract

We conducted a study to determine the causes of dizziness in patients aged 70 years and older who had been referred to our multidisciplinary dizziness clinic between Nov. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2008. This population was made up of 731 patients-254 men (34.7%) and 477 women (65.3%). During their consultations, all of these patients were evaluated simultaneously by an ENT surgeon and a neurologist. We were able to identify the cause of dizziness in 620 of these patients (84.8%). The two most common causes were benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which was found in 202 patients (27.6%), and hyperventilation/anxiety, which was diagnosed in 112 patients (15.3%). Based on our findings, we conclude that the cause of dizziness can be established in the vast majority of elderly patients. We also compare our findings in these older patients with those of a group of 2,556 younger patients who were seen at our hospital and with the findings reported in other studies.

Introduction

The reported prevalence of disabling dizziness in persons aged 70 years and older ranges from 10 to 20%.1-3 Dizziness is the most common reason that patients older than 75 years consult a general practitioner.4 Dizziness in older persons can have a significant impact on quality of life.5,6

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