Self-report symptoms differ between younger and older dizzy patients.



To determine whether the responses of elders compared with younger patients differed significantly on a structured dizziness case history.

Study Design

Retrospective case reviews.


Outpatient balance function testing center.


Two-hundred thirty-three adults who underwent vestibular function testing and completed a structured case history. The mean age of the adult group (18-64 yr) was 46.4 years. The mean age of the old adult group (65 yr and older) was 76.2 years.

Main Outcome Measure

Patient's self-reported symptoms on a structured case history questionnaire.


Younger adults reported significantly more complaints of true vertigo and associated nausea and vomiting compared with older patients. Older patients tended to report symptoms of unsteadiness or falling. Despite the lack of vertiginous symptoms, BPPV was common in older adults.


The clinician should be aware of differences in self-report dizziness symptoms in older patients. Older patients who do not have vertigo may be told that their symptoms are normal for their age, when, in fact, they may have an undiagnosed vestibular system impairment.