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Vestibular Disorders Statistics

How many people have vestibular disorders?

The exact number of people affected by vertigo/dizziness/imbalance is difficult to quantify. In part, this is because symptoms are difficult to describe and differences exist in the qualifying criteria within and across studies. However, broad-based demographic studies consistently show that vestibular disorders are underdiagnosed and undertreated.

  • “From 2001 through 2004, 35.4% of US adults aged 40 years and older (69 million Americans) had vestibular dysfunction.” [1]
  • Dizziness is a common symptom affecting about 30% of people over the age of 65.4. [2]
  • “U.S. doctors reported 5,417,000 patient visits in 1991 because of dizziness or vertigo.”[3]
  • “Approximately four percent (almost eight million) of American adults report a chronic problem (lasting three months or longer) with balance, while an additional 1.1 percent (2.4 million) of American adults report a chronic problem with dizziness alone.”[4]
  • “Vestibular vertigo accounts for one-third of dizziness/vertigo symptoms in the medical setting.” [5]
  • “Research on the personal and health care burden of ill health usually focuses on specific diseases rather than symptoms. This diagnosis-based approach may underestimate the burden of common symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo, which rank among the most frequent complaints in primary care but remain unexplained in 40% to 80% of cases.”[5]
  • “Despite reports that, as a consequence of vestibular deficits, children have poor gaze stability that affects reading, and impairments of motor development and balance, children are not typically screened for vestibular deficits. Consequently, vestibular dysfunction is an overlooked entity and intervention to ameliorate these impairments is not provided.” [6]

How do vestibular disorders/vertigo/dizziness/imbalance affect people’s quality of life?

  • “A majority of individuals over 70 years of age report problems of dizziness and imbalance, and balance-related falls account for more than one-half of the accidental deaths in the elderly…Furthermore, in a sample of persons age 65-75, one-third reported that dizziness and imbalance degraded the quality of their lives.”[1]
  • “Difficulty in performing one or more activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed, using toilet, getting around inside home) is highly prevalent among adults with chronic balance or dizziness: 11.5% with chronic dizziness, and 33.4% with chronic balance.”[7]
  • “People with measured vestibular dysfunction who are also symptomatic have a nearly 8-fold increase in the odds of falling compared with people neither of these risks. People with vestibular dysfunction who are asymptomatic also had significantly increased odds of falling.”[2]
  • “Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for persons age >65 years.”[8]

How do vestibular disorders impact health care systems?

  • “Overall, the cost of medical care for patients with balance disorders exceeds $1 billion per year in the United States.” [4]
  • "In the general population (all ages), 347,000 hospital days [per year in the U.S.] are incurred because of 'vertiginous syndromes,' 202,000 because of 'labyrinthitis' and 184,000 because of 'labyrinthitis unspecified,' with several thousands more accounted for by other balance disorders, e.g., Meniere's disease."[9]
  • Patient care costs for falls are more than $8 billion per year. [4]


  1. Agrawal Y, Carey JP, Della Santina CC, Schubert MC, Minor LB. Disorders of balance and vestibular function in US adults. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(10):938-944.
  2. Colledge N, Lewis S, et al. Magnetic resonance brain imaging in people with dizziness: a comparison with non-dizzy people. J Neurol Neurosurg Psych. May 2002;72(5):587-589.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital and health statistics, national ambulatory medical care survey: 1991 summary. Washington, DC: National Center for Health Statistics, Public Health Service, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 1994. DHHS publication PHS 94-1777.
  4. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Strategic plan (FY 2006-2008). Available online. Accessed June 12, 2009.
  5. Neuhauser HK, Radtke A, von Brevern M, Lezius F, Feldmann M, Lempert T. Burden of dizziness and vertigo in the community. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(19):2118-2124.
  6. Rine RM. Growing evidence for balance and vestibular problems in children. Audiological Med. 2009;7(3):138-142.
  7. Ko C, Hoffman HJ, Sklare DA. Chronic Imbalance or Dizziness and Falling: Results from the 1994 Disability supplement to the national health interview survey and the second supplement on aging study. Paper presented at: Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. February 6, 2006; Baltimore, MD.
  8. Self-reported falls and fall-related injuries among persons aged >65 years—United States, 2006.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008;57:225-229.
  9. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. National strategic research plan—1991, 1992, 1993. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; Public Health Service, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 1994. NIH Publication No. 95-3711.
  10. Froehling DA, Silverstein MD, Mohr DN, Beatty CW, Offord KP, Ballard DJ. Benign positional vertigo: incidence and prognosis in a population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clin Proceedings. 1991;66(6):596-601.
  11. Mizukoshi K, Watanabe Y, Shojaku H, Okubo J, Watanabe I. Epidemiological studies on benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in Japan. Acta Otolaryngologica. 1988; 447(suppl):67-72.
  12. von Brevern M, Radtke A, Lezius F, Feldmenn M, Ziese T, Lempert T, Neuhauser H. Epidemiology of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a population based study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psych. 2007;78:710-715.
  13. Yin M, Ishikawa I, Wong WH, Shibata Y. A clinical epidemiological study in 2169 patients with vertigo. Aurus Nasus Larynx. 2009;36:30-35.
  14. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Meniere's disease. Available online. Accessed February 25, 2010.

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