Dizziness demystified

Pract Neurol. 2019 Dec;19(6):492-501. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2019-002199. Epub 2019 Jul 20.


Four vestibular presentations caused by six different disorders constitute most of the neuro-otology cases seen in clinical practice. 'Acute vestibular syndrome' refers to a first-ever attack of acute, spontaneous, isolated vertigo and there are two common causes: vestibular neuritis / labyrinthitis and cerebellar infarction. Recurrent positional vertigo is most often caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and less commonly is central in origin. Recurrent spontaneous vertigo has two common causes: Ménière's disease and vestibular migraine. Lastly, chronic vestibular insufficiency (imbalance) results from bilateral, or severe unilateral, peripheral vestibular impairment. These six disorders can often be diagnosed on the basis of history, examination, audiometry, and in some cases, basic vestibular function testing. Here we show that most common neuro-otological problems can be readily managed by general neurologists.

Keywords: benign positional vertigo; ménière's disease; vertigo; vestibular migraine; vestibular neuritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Infarction / complications
  • Brain Infarction / diagnosis
  • Cerebellar Diseases / complications
  • Cerebellar Diseases / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / diagnosis*
  • Dizziness / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Meniere Disease / complications
  • Meniere Disease / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis