The percent is calculated by dividing the numerator [“yes” responses to (d) AND one of the listed responses to (e) AND “yes” response to (a) OR one or more of the six responses to (b); see questions] by the denominator [“yes” response to (a) OR one or more of the six responses to (b); see questions].
Vestibular (inner ear balance) disorders can cause dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, problems with hearing, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, concentration, and other symptoms. They can deeply affect a person's day-to-day functioning, ability to work, social relationships, and quality of life. Balance is a state of body equilibrium or stability. We often take for granted how dependent we are on a healthy balance system. When the system breaks down, however, patients will describe symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness, or motion sickness.
Several million people per year visit their doctor for vestibular or balance disorders.
These disorders are among the most common complaints that lead patients to visit their primary care physicians. Furthermore, it is one of the most common reasons elderly people seek medical advice. Patients often describe balance problems in terms of vertigo, dizziness, lightheadedness, and motion sickness. Not all of these symptoms are caused by disorders of the vestibular system. Moreover, although one person may describe a balance problem using one or more of these terms, another person may use a different combination of these terms to describe the very same condition. In fact, some people use the word dizziness to indicate that they simply do not feel well. It is important, therefore, for patients to not use general terms when describing their balance problems. Patients are encouraged to simply describe the sensation they feel without using general terms like dizziness.
One of the most important parts of the medical evaluation is the patient's description of the symptoms. As already mentioned, it is important for the patient to describe the details of what they are experiencing. The doctor will ask other important questions such as: How long and how often have they had the problem? Does the symptom of the balance problem occur in attacks or is it constant? Is it triggered by movement or by arising from a sitting or lying position? Is it associated with other symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), ear fullness, nausea, or vomiting? Have there been any general health changes, new medications, recent head trauma, or recent or current infections? Are there any other neurological symptoms, such as weakness, vision problems, or tingling?
About 33.4 million adults (14.8%) reported they had a problem with dizziness or balance in the past 12 months. Their description of dizziness and balance problems included one or more of the following: a) a spinning or vertigo sensation, a rocking of yourself or your surroundings (as if riding a carousel), b) a floating, spacey, or tilting sensation, c) feeling lightheaded without a sense of motion, d) feeling as if you are going to pass out or faint, e) blurring of your vision when you move your head, or f) feeling off-balance or unsteady. After describing their symptoms, subjects participating in this survey were asked which symptom, if more than one occurred, bothered them the most. For the most “bothersome” symptom, a number of follow-up questions were asked, for example, a) age when symptom first occurred, b) length of time they have had the problem in months or years, c) how often the problem has occurred in the past 12 months, d) how long each bout or spell lasts, e) what triggers the problem, etc. In addition, subjects answered questions about what accompanies the balance or dizziness problem, for example, nausea and vomiting, headaches (migraine or not), blurred vision, tinnitus, numbness in face, hands, or feet, etc.