Dizziness and vertigo in an older population: the Blue Mountains prospective cross-sectional study

Clin Otolaryngol. 2009 Dec;34(6):552-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-4486.2009.02025.x.


Objectives: We aimed to reassess the prevalence and personal burden of dizziness/vertigo, and to assess the relationship with hearing loss and tinnitus in older adults.

Design: Prospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, Australia.

Participants: We examined 2751 of 2956 (aged 50+ years) Blue Mountains Hearing Study participants.

Main outcome measures: Audiologists screened participants for reported dizziness using a single question. Questions from the Dizziness Handicap Inventory were used to assess the impacts of dizziness/vertigo. Hearing impairment was determined as the pure-tone average of audiometric hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hz (PTA(0.5-4 KHz)), defining any hearing loss as PTA(0.5-4 KHz) >25 dB HL. Presence of tinnitus was assessed by a positive response to a single question. Quality of life was measured using the Short Form 36-item Health Survey (SF-36). Each SF-36 dimension was scored from 0 (worst possible health state) to 100 (best possible health state).

Results: Prevalences of dizziness/vertigo, vestibular vertigo and non-vestibular vertigo were 36.2%, 10.0% and 14.2%, respectively. Of the dizziness/vertigo reports, 27.7% and 39.3%, respectively, were attributed to vestibular and non-vestibular vertigo. Tinnitus was associated with dizziness, odds ratio, OR, 1.99 (95% confidence interval, CI, 1.68-2.35). However, hearing loss was not associated with dizziness/vertigo. Participants reporting dizziness/vertigo had lower quality of life scores (P < 0.0001). Participants reporting vestibular vertigo were more likely than those with non-vestibular vertigo to report higher DHI scale scores or a greater handicap.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the burden imposed by dizziness, indicating dizziness/vertigo are important public health care issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tinnitus / diagnosis
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology
  • Vertigo / diagnosis
  • Vertigo / epidemiology*