The Epidemiology of Vestibular Migraine: A Population-based Survey Study

Otol Neurotol. 2018 Sep;39(8):1037-1044. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001900.


Objectives: 1. Describe the epidemiology of vestibular migraine (VM) in the United States, using data from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). 2. Characterize the sociodemographic and clinical attributes of people with VM.

Study design: Population-based nationwide survey study of US adults.

Patients: Adult respondents to the 2008 NHIS.

Main outcome measures: The responses of participants in the 2008 NHIS balance and dizziness supplement (n = 21,781) were analyzed using statistical software. A case definition for VM was generated based on consensus criteria for diagnosis, and this was applied to the dataset to ascertain the prevalence, demographic, and clinical characteristics of VM.

Results: The 1-year prevalence of a dizziness or balance problem in the United States was 11.9% (2,490 respondents). Of respondents with dizziness, 584 (23.4%) met our case definition of VM, which represents a prevalence of VM in 2.7% of adults. There was a female preponderance (64.1%) and a slightly younger mean age (40.9 yr) for those with VM as compared with all respondents (51.7% females and 46.0 yr, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that age less than 40, female sex, anxiety, depression, and prior head trauma were all associated with significantly increased odds of experiencing VM. Only 10% of subjects meeting criteria for VM were told that migraine was the cause of their dizziness.

Conclusion: Using a representative database, we found a much higher prevalence of VM in the United States than previously reported. Results from this study indicate likely under-diagnosis of VM.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dizziness / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vertigo / epidemiology*