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Study links osteoporosis and vertigo

March 23, 2009 |  1:27 pm

People with osteoporosis are more likely to have vertigo, researchers have found. A study published today in the journal Neurology suggests that a problem with calcium metabolism may be an underlying cause of vertigo.

Vertigo is an inner ear disorder that causes dizziness. It may be caused by loose calcium carbonate crystals that move around in the inner ear. The study, conducted by researchers from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea, examined 209 people with vertigo that had no obvious cause, such as a head trauma or ear disorder. Those people were compared to 202 people with no history of dizziness. The study found that people with osteoporosis were three times more likely to have vertigo. People with osteopenia, an early stage of osteoporosis, were twice as likely to have vertigo. The relationship was found in both women and men.

Since women often experience their first bout of vertigo in their 50s, which is also when the loss of bone mass is most noticeable, experts speculate that declining levels of estrogen may be involved. However there is no obvious role for estrogen in vertigo. Moreover, the study found the association between osteoporosis and vertigo in men too, which means factors other than estrogen probably play a role.

More information on vertigo can be found at the American Academy of Neurology website.

-- Shari Roan