Vertigo and dizziness in children

Vertigo and dizziness in children - is it possible?

Is it possible for children to experience vertigo? Amplifon specialists address the causes and symptoms of pediatric vertigo.

The causes of dizziness and vertigo in children

In humans, any change or disturbance in one or more systems involved in maintaining our dynamic and static balance can result in symptoms that disrupt our natural position/posture and movement. Pathological phenomena that affect the balance system, the visual system, spatial receptors and cortical structures related to them, can cause a loss of spatial orientation, dizziness and falls. 

Postural instability or true vertigo is a condition that can frequently occur in childhood and adolescence. Most causes are benign and treatable, in other cases the event can be traced to problems that are to be sought outside the vestibular system.

The symptoms of dizziness and vertigo in children

Vertigo or balance problems, including motion sickness, lightheadedness, fainting, poor motor coordination and frequent falls, in children or in adolescents (< 17 years) deserve careful evaluation. During this phase, it is important to differentiate the diagnose of a vestibular disorder from extravestibular phenomena (eg, epilepsy).  Vestibular symptoms in children may manifest as a syndrome that mimics certain classic symptoms and conditions of adult vestibular disorders, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, usually associated with aging. 

Several clinical studies concerning the presence of vertigo in children have shown that the main causes are otitis (24%), paroxysmal vertigo (18%), migraine (17%) and head trauma (14%). Early-onset Meniere's disease and acoustic nerve neurinoma are rare. In the United States, the prevalence of vertigo and balance problems in children is approximately 5% (3.3 million children), with a higher percentage of cases in females. The prevalence increases with age, from 4.1% for children aged 3-5 years to 7.5% for children aged 15-17 years. In approximately 60% of these cases, therapeutic treatment is necessary.

Treatments for dizziness and vertigo in children

Based on an extensive evaluation of the child with vertigo or, more generally, dizziness, the otolaryngologist should be aware that these symptoms are often related to different pathologies than those observed in the adults. Pediatricians and neuro-otologists should be aware of the full spectrum of causes of dizziness or vertigo in children and adolescents. Vestibular function should be assessed taking all the correct precautions and its treatment should consider coexisting migraine symptoms.

To diagnose vertigo in children the completion of a questionnaire of the patient's history and reported symptoms, an audiometric examination with impedance testing and vestibular function tests is required. In some cases, further diagnostic investigation includes an electroencephalogram, hematochemical testing and an MRI – CT.

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