This article reviews a method of obtaining the medical history of patients presenting with dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance. By combining elements of the history with examination, the goal is to identify patterns and an effective differential diagnosis for this group of patients to help lead to an accurate diagnosis.
Studies over the past dozen years have changed the historical approach to patients with dizziness from one based primarily on how the patient describes the sensation of dizziness. This older approach can lead to misdiagnosis, so a preferred method puts greater emphasis on whether the dizziness is acute or chronic, episodic or continuous, or evoked by or brought on by an event or circumstance so that a pattern may be derived that better narrows the differential diagnosis and focused examination can further narrow to a cause or causes.
Dizziness is a common symptom of many possible causes. This article will help clinicians navigate gathering the history and examination to formulate a working diagnosis in patients affected by dizziness.