Dizziness in elderly men

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1994 Nov;42(11):1184-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1994.tb06986.x.


Objective: To evaluate the causes of dizziness in elderly men.

Design: A descriptive study involving the clinical and laboratory features of elderly men with dizziness.

Setting: A university-affiliated Veterans Affairs medical center.

Patients: One hundred seventeen consecutive men more than 50 years of age attending a general neurology clinic with the chief complaint of dizziness.

Results: The median duration of dizziness at first office visit was 45 weeks. Forty-nine percent of patients had more than one diagnosis that contributed to their dizziness. Dysfunctions of the peripheral vestibular system were found in 71% and were the principal causes in 56%. Benign positional vertigo was present in 34%. Disorders of the visual system were found in 26% but were the major cause in only 1%. Diagnoses involving the proprioceptive system were present in 17% and were the principal cause in 7%. Structural lesions of the brainstem or cerebellum or metabolic disorders that affected normal brainstem function were identified in 59% and were the major diagnoses in 22%. A psychophysiologic diagnosis was made in 6% but was the major diagnosis in only 3%. At the 6-months follow-up, 55% of patients improved, 34% were unchanged, 4% worsened, and 7% were lost to follow-up.

Conclusions: Contrary to reports in the literature, dizziness in the elderly is more persistent, has more causes, is less often due to a psychophysiologic cause, and seems to be more incapacitating than dizziness in younger patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dizziness / diagnosis
  • Dizziness / epidemiology*
  • Dizziness / etiology*
  • Dizziness / therapy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, University
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Mexico / epidemiology
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome