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Br J Gen Pract. 1998 Apr; 48(429): 1131–1135.
PMCID: PMC1410052

Prevalence and presentation of dizziness in a general practice community sample of working age people.


BACKGROUND: Dizziness is known to be a common, handicapping condition in the elderly, and a strong association between dizziness and anxiety disorders has been observed in hospital samples. However, little is known about the prevalence of dizziness among people of working age in the community and its implications for psychosocial functioning and general practice consultation and treatment. AIM: To determine the prevalence of dizziness, giddiness, vertigo, and unsteadiness, and associations with disability and handicap, symptoms of panic and agoraphobia, and general practice consultation and treatment. METHOD: Postal questionnaires were completed by 2064 people aged 18-64 years randomly sampled from the patient lists of four London practices. Validated survey items were used to assess symptoms, panic and agoraphobia, levels of occupational disability and handicap, and general practice consultation and treatment. RESULTS: More than one in five responders (n = 480) had experienced dizziness during the past month; nearly half of these (n = 225) reported some degree of handicap and 30% had been dizzy for more than five years. Almost half (n = 221) of those with dizziness also reported anxiety and/or avoidance behaviour. Multiple physical and psychological symptoms were associated with higher levels of handicap. Only one in four of the 225 dizzy responders reporting some degree of handicap had received any form of treatment. CONCLUSION: Dizziness is a common, chronic, and often untreated symptom in people aged 18-65 years, associated with extensive handicap and psychological morbidity.

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Selected References

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