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Prevalence and characteristics of diagnostic groups amongst 1034 patients seen in ENT practices for dizziness.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and characteristics of various diagnostic groups amongst patients referred to ENT practices with the primary complaint of dizziness.

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective, observational, multicentre study.

METHODS: Consecutive patients presenting with dizziness to the participating ENT practices were enrolled. Seven ENT specialists at three clinics participated.

RESULTS: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo was diagnosed in 53.3 per cent of the 1034 study patients. Fifty-nine per cent of these experienced night-time awakening with dizziness, which was a significant proportion in comparison to the other diagnostic groups. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo was the most frequent diagnosis in all age groups, including those over 70 years.

CONCLUSION: In this study of patients referred to ENT for dizziness, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo was the dominant diagnostic entity, in all age groups and overall. All clinicians in contact with dizzy patients must consider benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, especially in the elderly.

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