Determining the etiology of disorders that manifest with chronic dizziness can seem a daunting task, but extracting some basic elements of the patient’s history can reduce the differential diagnosis significantly. This includes determining initial triggers, timing of symptoms, associated features, and exacerbating factors. This article covers distinct causes of chronic dizziness including persistent postural perceptual dizziness, mal de débarquement syndrome, motion sickness and visually induced motion sickness, bilateral vestibulopathy, and persistent dizziness after mild concussion.
To date, none of the disorders above has a cure but are considered chronic syndromes with fluctuations that are both innate and driven by environmental stressors. As such, the mainstay of therapy for chronic disorders of dizziness involves managing factors that exacerbate symptoms and adding vestibular rehabilitation or cognitive-behavioral therapy alone or in combination, as appropriate. These therapies are supplemented by serotonergic antidepressants that modulate sensory gating and reduce anxiety. Besides expectation management, ruling out concurrent disorders and recognizing behavioral and lifestyle factors that affect symptom severity are critical issues in reducing morbidity for each disorder.
Many syndromes of chronic dizziness can be diagnosed by recognition of key features, although many symptoms overlap between these groups. Symptoms may be manageable and improve with time, but they are often incompletely relieved.