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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2010;28(1):83-90. doi: 10.3233/RNN-2010-0530.

Management of the patient with chronic dizziness.

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  • 1Neuro-otology Unit, Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Imperial College London, Charing Cross Hospital, London, UK.


In this review we present a pragmatic approach to the patient with chronic vestibular symptoms. Even in the chronic patient a retrospective diagnosis should be attempted, in order to establish how the patient reached the current situation. Simple questions are likely to establish if the chronic dizzy symptoms started as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuritis, vestibular migraine, Meniere's disease or as a brainstem stroke. Then it is important to establish if the original symptoms are still present, in which case they need to be treated (e.g. repositioning maenouvres for BPPV, migraine prophylaxis) or if you are only dealing with chronic dizzy symptoms. In addition the doctor or physiotherapist needs to establish if the process of central vestibular compensation has been impeded due to additional clinical problems, e.g. visual problems (squints, cataract operation), proprioceptive deficit (neuropathy due to diabetes or alcohol), additional neurological or orthopaedic problems, lack of mobility or confidence, such as fear of falling or psychological disorders. A general neurological examination should also be conducted, amongst other reasons to make sure your patient's ;chronic dizziness' is not due to a neurological gait disorder. Treatment of the syndrome of chronic dizziness is multidisciplinary but rehabilitation and simple counselling should be available to all patients. In contrast, vestibular suppressants or tranquilisers should be reduced or, if possible, stopped.

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