Context: Vertiginous complaints represent a frequent cause for consultations in the general practice. This symptom may result from a variety of disorders. They are often repetitive and invalidating. A rigorous diagnostic approach is required, based on interrogation and clinical examination. The relevant literature supplies surprisingly few data describing the problem in the daily practice, and no study exists in France. Aim: This survey describes the presentation mode of vertiginous complaints faced by general practitioners (GPs), their frequency, type (vertigo or disequilibrium), epidemiology and repercussions on the patients’ quality of life. It analyses also the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies used by GPs. Methods: A survey of 870 GPs was carried out in October and November 2001. Information was gathered by means of a questionnaire containing 11 items. Results: 699 questionnaires were selected for statistical analysis. The average number of consultations for vertiginous complaints is 4.9/week. In two thirds of cases, patients reported disequilibrium. The age of patients suffering from disequilibrium was significantly higher (61.06 ± 9.47) than that of patients suffering from vertigo (50.89 ± 10.21). In cases of vertigo, GPs first performed neurological and ENT investigations, while they performed vascular and then neurological and ENT investigations in cases of disequilibrium. Patients were referred to a specialist in 37% of cases, mainly due to the severity and permanence of symptoms. The most common therapeutic forms were medicinal followed by physiotherapeutic. A high impact upon all aspects of the patient’s life was observed and that vertigo could mask other severe illnesses due to its invalidating nature. Conclusion: Vertigo and disequilibrium represent the complaints of 5% of the patients seen by GPs in France. Further studies are needed to assess more specifically the repercussions of vertiginous complaints on the patient’s quality of life.

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