April 17, 2014

Dizziness and Imbalance in Kids

Dizziness is not the easiest thing to figure out in adults. It is even more difficult to figure out in kids who may not have the vocabulary to explain what they feel. Regardless of adult or child, a good history is required to help narrow down possibilities. A flowchart of questions to help come up with a diagnosis can be found here.

Given that, a review article published in 2014 went over the most likely diagnosis of a child who is dizzy.

Based on 724 subjects over 10 studies, benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood (18.7%) and migraine-associated vertigo (17.6%) were the two main etiologies causing vertigo and dizziness in children. Head trauma (14%) was the third most common cause of vertigo. The mean (95% CI) rate of every vertiginous form was also calculated in relation to the nine studies analyzed with vestibular migraine (27.82%), benign paroxysmal vertigo (15.68%) and vestibular neuritis (9.81%) being the three most common forms.

Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood is not clearly understood with some researchers feeling it is a form of adult BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) given similar symptoms whereas others feel it is more related to a neurologic vascular basis. With this particular condition, there is no established treatment protocol.

True BPPV occurred in 1.8%. Meniere's disease accounted for only 1.5%. Othostatic hypotension only 1.2%. Middle ear problems surprisingly only occurred in 3% which was felt by the researchers to be highly under-estimated.

Given the top 3 causes of vertigo in children all have a neurologic basis, an evaluation by a good pediatric neurologist is warranted.

Prevalence and diagnosis of vestibular disorders in children: A review. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 May;78(5):718-724. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2014.02.009. Epub 2014 Feb 15.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) in Children and Adolescents: Clinical Features and Response to Therapy in 110 Pediatric Patients. Otol Neurotol. 2017 Dec 28. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001673. [Epub ahead of print]

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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