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The Dizzy Child


girl at playground

Thursday, October 14, 2021

​While The Dizzy Child, the title of a new paper published in the Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America, by Elizabeth Kelly, M.D., Neurotologist, Kristen Janky, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical Audiologist and Research Scientist, and Jessie Patterson, Au.D., Ph.D., Clinical and Research Audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital, may sound somewhat lighthearted, up to 15% of children have problems with dizziness.

Unfortunately, most children with dizziness are diagnosed with "unspecified dizziness", which highlights the difficulty many practitioners have in determining the cause of dizziness in children. Therefore, understanding the cause of dizziness in children is a growing area of research.

Difficulty in Diagnosing

Young children have trouble communicating their symptoms, thus inhibiting medical provider's from making an accurate diagnosis. Balance problems can cause children a great deal of discomfort and stress because they can affect gross motor development and visual acuity. It's no surprise that balance disorders can then impact children's schoolwork, social life, and interactions with family. The longer dizziness goes on, the more a child is negatively impacted. Thus, it's important for caregivers to be aware of changes in a child's behavior or motor function.

Aids for Caregivers

Two pediatric questionnaires, the Pediatric Dizziness Handicap Inventory and the Pediatric Vestibular Symptom Questionnaire are both available for children age 6 and older to determine the severity of vestibular symptoms. The results garnered from these tools can help a child's medical provider identify the severity of dizziness and monitor changes in symptoms following treatment.

Vestibular Evaluation in Children

Vestibular loss often results in delayed gross motor skills, such as sitting, standing, and learning to walk. Thus, the medical history can play a critical role in determining whether a child has an underlying vestibular disorder. Children with hearing loss are more likely to have vestibular loss; therefore, children with history of gross motor delay and with history of hearing loss are good candidates for a vestibular evaluation.

There are a variety of reasons children can become dizzy. For example, vestibular migraines are the most common cause of dizziness in children. Thankfully, some modifications medical and vestibular assessment can be completed in children.

Learn more about our Balance and Vestibular Evaluations and the Vestibular Tests and Treatments offered at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

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