Dizziness, Vertigo, and Mental Health Comorbidity in Gulf War Veterans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a chronic condition involving symptoms across multiple body systems. Previous research has implicated the vestibular system as a potential underlying factor in the symptoms experienced by veterans with GWI, due in part to exposure to potentially ototoxic chemicals and events. PURPOSE: To characterize the presence of vertigo and dizziness symptoms in a sample of veterans with GWI using validated self-report instruments, accounting for mental health comorbidities. RESEARCH DESIGN: This is a case series, follow-up, prospective interview of clinical veterans; results presented are purely descriptive. STUDY SAMPLE: Our sample of 50 veterans was a follow-up to a case series of clinical Gulf War veterans evaluated at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Veterans participated in a 70-min phone interview where the following questionnaires were administered: Vertigo Symptom Scale (VSS), Patient Health Questionnaire (depression scale), Patient Health Questionnaire (somatization scale), Beck Anxiety Inventory, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Traumatic Brain Injury Questionnaire, and GWI (Kansas) Questionnaire. We used descriptive (mean/median, standard deviation, interquartile range, and percentage) statistics to describe our sample and illuminate possible relationships between measures. RESULTS: Our primary finding is a substantial report of vertigo symptoms in our sample, according to the VSS. Ninety percent of participants scored above the VSS threshold (>12), suggesting "severe dizziness." The most commonly endorsed symptom on the VSS was "headache or pressure in the head." CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that there is significant burden of vertigo symptoms in veterans with GWI, suggesting a need for objective tests of vestibular function in this population. Furthermore, the relationship between symptoms of vertigo and dizziness, vestibular function, and PTSD warrants further exploration using objective measures.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fox, A; Riska, K; Tseng, C-L; McCarron, K; Satcher, S; Osinubi, O; Helmer, D

Published Date

  • October 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 764 - 771

PubMed ID

  • 30424834

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2157-3107

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3766/jaaa.17122


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States