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Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Oct;18(5):386-91. doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e32833ce5a6.

Geriatric vestibulopathy assessment and management.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



This review discusses the demographics of dizziness in the older person, the evaluation of the older dizzy patient and how the treatment of dizziness in older patients differs from that in younger individuals.


Seven percent of all visits to primary care physicians for patients older than 65 years of age are for dizziness, and dizziness is the most common complaint for patients older than 75 years. In a German study, the 12-month prevalence of vertigo in the general population was 5% with an incidence of 1.4% in adults overall. For individuals aged 60-69 the 12-month prevalence was found to be 7.2% and in individuals 70 years of age or older 8.9%. Data from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys indicated that the prevalence of vestibular dysfunction for individuals in the seventh decade of life, eighth decade of life, and older was 49.4, 68.7, and 84.8 percent, respectively. Only subtle age effects are seen on caloric and rotational testing whereas vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) change somewhat with age. Particle repositioning for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo combined with vestibular rehabilitation is more effective than only performing the repositioning maneuver. Tai Chi appears to be an effective intervention for older adults at risk for falling.


When caring for an older dizzy patient always assess medication use, perform a Dix-Hallpike maneuver, obtain orthostatic vital signs, discuss fall risk precautions, and consider referral for vestibular rehabilitation.

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