Some practical considerations on dizziness

Marek Juszczak1, Andrzej Głąbiński2

Affiliation and address for correspondence
AKTUALN NEUROL 2012, 12 (4), p. 251–258

Dizziness is one of the commonest problems encountered in everyday medical practice and constitute a highly heterogeneous group of symptoms of interdisciplinary origin. Leading causes of dizziness may be laryngological-, neurological-, internal medical-, ophthalmologic- or mental-based. The key issue in differential diagnosis of dizziness is precise description of character of ailments by the patient. Essentially, dizziness may be classified into systemic (vertigo) and non-systemic (lightheadedness, disequilibrium). One of the most common forms of dizziness is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Other causes of dizziness include: psychogenic vertigo (phobic postural vertigo, chronic subjective dizziness), migraine (including basilar-type migraine and vestibular migraine), Ménière disease, vestibular neuritis, multifactorial vertigo of the elderly (presbyastasis) and vascular dizziness. The latter are overdiagnosed in Poland, while other forms are largely underdiagnosed. An example thereof is BPPV, easily diagnosed be the almost pathognomonic Dix-Hallpike test and effectively treated by canalith repositioning (Epley) or liberatory (Semont) manoeuver. In the determination of cause(s) of dizziness paramount are neuroimaging studies, particularly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head. Furthermore, very useful are laryngological examination and electronystagmography (ENG), enabling differentiation between central and peripheral vertigo. Apart of the abovementioned procedures in the treatment of dizziness, an important role is played by betahistine-based pharmacotherapy. Most frequent causes of dizziness are discussed, with a special emphasis on their differential diagnosis at patient’s bedside.

vertigo, Ménière disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, migraine, presbyastasis, betahistine

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