Dizziness is usually defined in dictionaries as the sense of spinning and imbalance or as impairment in perception of balance and spatial stability.
It must be noted that dizziness is a nonspecific word and refers to impairments such as vertigo (40-45%), disequilibrium (16%), presyncope (14%) and light-headedness (10%). Moreover, other ambiguous feelings which patients may experience are some of the other subtypes of dizziness.
Although dizziness has been reported in children too, its prevalence increases in older ages. Dizziness in women is 2-3 times more than men.
Dizziness usually doesn’t lead to serious problems for patients and sometimes recovers spontaneously. However, some of the life-threatening disorders result in dizziness which makes the immediate intervention necessary. Neuhauser (2009) reported that in 0/7% of patients who present to the emergency room, stroke is the cause of dizziness. Furthermore, cardiovascular disorders are other important causes of dizziness.
Contrary to the popular opinion, dizziness and vertigo are not identical symptoms. Therefore, in history taking of a dizzy patient, it should be exactly recognized that what is the chief complaint of the patient and how their dizziness is. This issue can negatively affect diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
The main sensory systems which are responsible for creation and maintenance of balance include vision, proprioception and vestibular system in the inner ear. We should take into consideration that the degree of contribution of each these organs changes in stable and unstable surfaces. Moreover, different balance disorders change this sensory weighting. On the other hand, sometimes professionals can improve a specific sensory system function through vestibular rehabilitation exercises to substitute the impaired balance system. Overall, coordination and health of all organs of the body such as central nervous system and even psychological status is required to maintain balance.
A highly important and sometimes challenging subject regarding dizziness is the correct differential diagnosis of its underlying disorders. This issue is due to this fact that dizziness, vertigo and balance problems are usually accompanied by severe and debilitating symptoms and disorders. Hence, vertigo and balance professionals must be completely aware of the factors causing dizziness and key issues that are helpful in differential diagnosis of dizziness causes.