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Virtigo, Dizziness, and Balance

Virtigo, Dizziness, and Balance written by Dr. Natan Bauman, published in New Frontiers in Aging.

It is estimated that 90 million Americans will report balance-related symptoms to their physicians at least once in their lifetimes, and 7 million people seek medical assistance every year for treatment of episodic dizziness.' These statistics demonstrate that varied forms of vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance constitute a significant health problem in the United States. By the age of 65, 30 percent of the total population will experience at least one episode of dizziness. Because of the prevalence of these symptoms, one entire chapter is dedicated to the review of this common health problem among seniors, so that they are able to cooperate with their physicians and better understand and cope with these medical problems.

What is dizziness? We all remember the days of our childhoods when we stepped down from the merry-go-round and the world was spinning around us. Then it was fun-now it is an inconvenience and sometimes a threatening affliction. Whether we are affected by a single episode or by reoccurring dizziness symptoms, it is a disorienting, unpleasant experience limiting walking, driving, and other activities. Moreover, as long as we do not know the cause of the episode, we are concerned whether it is a signal of a life-threatening condition or an event not to worry about. Since there are many potentional causes for these symptoms, it is a challenge for the physician to determine the origin of the reported discomfort and to succeed at a correct diagnosis and an appropriate treatment.

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