Epidemiology of vestibular vertigo: a neurotologic survey of the general population

Neurology. 2005 Sep 27;65(6):898-904. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000175987.59991.3d.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and incidence of vestibular vertigo in the general population and to describe its clinical characteristics and associated factors.

Methods: The neurotologic survey had a two-stage general population sampling design: nationwide modified random digit dialing sampling for participation in the German National Telephone Health Interview Survey 2003 (response rate 52%) with screening of a random sample of 4,869 participants for moderate or severe dizziness or vertigo, followed by detailed neurotologic interviews developed through piloting and validation (n = 1,003, response rate 87%). Diagnostic criteria for vestibular vertigo were rotational vertigo, positional vertigo, or recurrent dizziness with nausea and oscillopsia or imbalance. Vestibular vertigo was detected by our interview with a specificity of 94% and a sensitivity of 84[corrected]% in a concurrent validation study using neurotology clinic diagnoses as an accepted standard (n = 61).

Results: The lifetime prevalence of vestibular vertigo was 7.4[corrected]%, the 1-year prevalence was 4.9[corrected]%, and the incidence was 1.4[corrected]%. In 80% of affected individuals, vertigo resulted in a medical consultation, interruption of daily activities, or sick leave. Female sex, age, lower educational level, and various comorbid conditions, including tinnitus, depression, and several cardiovascular diseases and risk factors, were associated with vestibular vertigo in the past year in univariate analysis. In multivariable analysis, only female sex, self-reported depression, tinnitus, hypertension, and dyslipidemia had an independent effect on vestibular vertigo.

Conclusions: Vestibular vertigo is common in the general population, affecting [corrected] 5% of adults in 1 year. The frequency and health care impact of vestibular symptoms at the population level have been underestimated.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Dizziness / epidemiology
  • Dizziness / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sex Factors
  • Vertigo / epidemiology*
  • Vertigo / psychology
  • Vestibular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / psychology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiopathology*