Most of the studies and research related to vertigo and other vestibular disorders has focused on adults. However, as many as in one in five children have problems with vertigo and dizziness. Children may not be able to clearly describe what they are feeling. Very young children may cling to a parent or caregiver for support and refuse to stand on their own. An older child may say they feel like they are falling or that their bed is spinning. It’s important to see the ENT if your child is experiencing vertigo. Problems with vertigo and balance can impair motor development.

Causes of vertigo in children

Researchers reviewed 14 year’s worth of ENT records to identify the most common causes of vertigo in children. Here’s what they found:

  • Vestibular Migraine. The vertigo can last for just seconds or linger for days. It may occur independent of the headache. In order for this diagnosis to be made, the child will have at least five migraine headaches with or without auras with at least half accompanied by vertigo. The treatment for migraine treats the vertigo.
  • Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo. This is a type of vertigo that is only found in children under the age of 6. Unlike BPV in adults, in children the vertigo is not triggered by movement. No nystagmus or tinnitus is present but the child may have flu-like symptoms as well as nausea and vomiting.
  • Concussion or Head Trauma. Sports are the main source of vertigo due to head trauma or concussion. Recovery from the concussion or trauma ends the vertigo.
  • Vestibular Neuritis and Labyrinthitis. The symptoms are similar to those of a middle ear infection. In addition, the child may have nausea and vomiting. When this infection occurs on one ear, it can cause vertigo. Because it is viral, antibiotics are not effective.

See the ENT for childhood vertigo

If your child complains of dizziness or shows signs of vertigo, see the ENT. ENTs are qualified to treat conditions of the ears, nose and throat no matter the age of the patient. The ENT can screen for vision problems by:

  • Having the child follow a moving toy with their eyes
  • Having the child look quickly from one target to the other
  • Using a cover/cross test to determine if eyes are skewed
  • Slowly moving an item towards the bridge of the nose to check convergence.

If problems with vision are detected the ENT can refer you to a pediatric optometrist. If vision problems are not detected, then the ENT can perform vestibular function tests to determine the cause for the vertigo.