What is it about?

Aims of the study In this project we explored how people with vestibular disorders had been affected by theCovid-19 pandemic. We wanted to find out about changes to their health during this time, as well as how their everyday lives and routines had been impacted. How we collected the data We designed an online survey which asked about basic demographic information and health conditions. The survey also captured what vestibular symptoms people experienced before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, and what vestibular healthcare they had received throughout the pandemic. Questions also covered daily activities, work, and work-life balance. Some questions were in a multiple-choice format, while others had a free-text format so people could provide more detail. We shared our survey with charity organisations, vestibular support groups and clinical teams who helped us to distribute this. 124 people in the UK completed our online survey. What did we find? People reported changes in their wellbeing; over half rated their health as worse now than before the pandemic. Some thought their vestibular symptoms had worsened during the pandemic. Vertigo, unsteadiness, dizziness, tinnitus, loss of concentration/memory, and headaches were the symptoms most likely to be rated as having worsened. Disruptions to healthcare were common, including delays and longer waiting lists. Some people had been offered a remote consultation over the telephone or a video call. Generally, people thought remote care was convenient and offered flexibility. However, people reported some trade-offs including difficulty communicating and a less personal relationship with the healthcare professional. Remote appointments were perceived as more suitable for follow-up appointments rather than an initial appointment, where a diagnosis needs to be made. People experienced changes in their daily routines including reduced social contact (83%) and exercise (54%). However, some unintended benefits of the pandemic were also reported including less pressure to socialise, avoiding busy places and being able to look after oneself.

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Why is it important?

Our results show that the Covid-19 pandemic can impact people in different ways. People with vestibular disorders experience symptoms which can make them more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. Clinical services should be mindful that Covid-19 can heighten vestibular symptoms and offer support to improve wellbeing. We will share our findings at meetings and conferences and publish the results in journals to help raise awareness of this.


Given the uncertainty of how long the hardship of Covid-19 may persist, it is important to understand the experiences of people with vestibular disorders and to identify the best ways to support them throughout this period. The current survey indicates that improving care by addressing psychological symptoms, promoting an active lifestyle, supporting self-management, and developing nuanced approaches for remote care may help.

Laura Smith
University of Kent

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Living with a vestibular disorder during the Covid-19 pandemic: An online survey study, Journal of Vestibular Research, October 2022, IOS Press, DOI: 10.3233/ves-210119.
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