Scientific Study

Prevalence of Vestibular Dysfunction

Article Summary

The exact prevalence of vestibular dysfunction in the general public is not clearly known, but even the lowest estimates reflect the fact that vestibular disorders occur frequently and can affect people of any age.

Because of difficulties posed by accurately diagnosing and reporting vestibular disorders, the exact prevalence of vestibular dysfunction in the general public is unknown. However, statistics estimating how common they are, how often they occur, and what social impacts they have range widely. Yet even the lowest estimates reflect the fact that vestibular disorders occur frequently and can affect people of any age.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 4% (8 million) of American adults report a chronic problem with balance, while an additional 1.1% (2.4 million) report a chronic problem with dizziness alone. Eighty percent of people aged 65 years and older have experienced dizziness, and BPPV, the most common vestibular disorder, is the cause of approximately 50% of dizziness in older people. Overall, vertigo from a vestibular problem accounts for a third of all dizziness and vertigo symptoms reported to health care professionals.

Read more about the prevalence of vestibular dysfunction.

Symptoms of chronic dizziness or imbalance can have a significant impact on the ability of a disabled person to perform one or more activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or simply getting around inside the home, affecting 11.5% of adults with chronic dizziness and 33.4% of adults with chronic imbalance. The painful economic and social impacts of dizziness are significantly underestimated.

Vestibular disorders not only profoundly affect adults, but also children. Once thought to be exceptionally rare, pediatric vestibular disorders are receiving increasing attention from clinicians as an overlooked problem. In addition to impairments of motor development and balance, vestibular deficits may cause poor gaze stability that inhibits children from learning to read. Despite new awareness of pediatric vestibular disorders, children are currently not typically screened for them, and as a result frequently fail to receive medical treatment.

Read more about pediatric vestibular disorders.

View References
1

Agrawal Y, Carey JP, Della Santina CC, Schubert MC, Minor LB. Disorders of balance and vestibular function in US adults. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(10):938-944. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19468085/

2

Chuan-Ming Li, MD, PhD, Howard J. Hoffman, MA, Bryan K. Ward, MD, Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, Rose Marie Rine, PT, PhD. Epidemiology of Dizziness and Balance Problems in Children in the United States: A Population-Based Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2016;Vol. 171, P240-247. Source: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2016/more-1-20-us-children-have-dizziness-and-balance-problems