Volume 21, Number 6
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Epidemiological evidence for a link between vertigo and migraine
Featured Article (141 KB)
pp. 299 - 304
Michael von Brevern, Hannelore Neuhauser
Both migraine and dizziness/vertigo rank among the most common complaints in the general population. Worldwide, the lifetime prevalence of migraine is about 14%. Approximately 20% to 30% of the general population are affected by dizziness and vertigo.
Given the high prevalence of vertigo and migraine in the general population it is not surprising that many patients suffer from both symptoms. Nonetheless, in the last decade epidemiological arguments have progressively accumulated to strengthen the hypothesis that vertigo is linked to migraine beyond a mere chance concurrence. Several studies with selected patient groups have shown that the prevalence of vertigo is increased in patients with migraine. Vice versa, patients presenting to a dizziness clinic have a history of migraine more often than would be expected by chance. The epidemiological link between vertigo and migraine has recently been confirmed on the population level.
The relation between vertigo and migraine is intricate. In vestibular migraine, vertigo is conceptualized as a vestibular symptom caused by migraine. Vestibular migraine is the most common cause for recurrent spontaneous vertigo with a lifetime-prevalence in the general population of about 1%. Other vestibular disorders that display an increased prevalence of migraine are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and Menière's disease. Furthermore, migraine is associated with motion sickness, rare ataxia disorders and psychiatric syndromes that can also manifest with vertigo and dizziness.