THE POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HEALTH ANXIETY AND VERTIGO

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ABSTRACT
Background: Health anxiety is defined by fears and worries of a severe illness in an otherwise healthy subject. A recent
epidemiological study found a point prevalence of 3.4% and a life time prevalence of 5.7% for health anxiety. The term vertigo is a
symptom, not a disease.
Aims & Objectives: Health anxiety has not been investigated previously in patients with vertigo complaint. In this study we
investigated the possible relationship between health anxiety and vertigo.
Materials and Methods: We performed Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI) scale in Turkish and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) to
study group and control group. The study group consisted of 62 patients who admitted to the otolaryngology clinic with vertigo
complaint. The control group consisted of 70 healthy subjects.
Results: With regard to the SHAI and BAI scores. With regard to gender and marital status, SHAI and BAI results did not reach
significant difference.
Conclusion: Health anxiety and vertigo are common problems that may easily be neglected by busy general practitioners.
Otolaryngologists and psychiatrists should be in closer cooperation to diagnose and to treat these health problems.
Key Words: Health Anxiety; Vertigo; Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI); Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI)
Introduction
Health anxiety is defined by fears and worries of a severe
illness in an otherwise healthy subject.[1] The condition
consists of two components – perception of a serious
illness and the perceived illness which might cause
negative results.[2] A recent Australian epidemiological
study found a point prevalence of 3.4% and a life time
prevalence of 5.7% for health anxiety.[3] Stress, serious
illness and exposure to disease related popular media
can speed up growing health anxiety. Subclinical forms of
health anxiety cause reduced quality of life and more
detailed medical examinations leading to increased
health care system costs. Health anxiety was found to be
significantly associated with any anxiety or affective
disorder.[4]
The term “vertigo” is a symptom, not a disease.[5]Today a
consensus has not been achieved on the precise
definition of vertigo. Many otologists would recognize
vertigo as distinct from other forms of dizziness such as
presyncopal lightheadedness, disequilibrium, or other
unsettling sensations.[6] Dizziness is accompanied by
circumscribed illusions of motion of oneself or the
surroundings, that is a symptom combination seized by
the term vertigo.[7] Vertigo complaint may occur in many
central or vestibular disorders. Epidemiological surveys
showed that 20% to 30% of the population may have
experienced vertigo or dizziness in their lifetime.[8-11]
The diagnosis and management of

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