The term PPPD describes a common, chronic type of dizziness that impacts quality of life. It is usually the result of another vestibular disorder and is primarily caused by the reaction a person has, to the experience of dizziness caused by something else. Balance or dizziness may often trigger anxiety, insecurity, and avoidance of normal everyday activities. Unfortunately, in the longer term, avoidance, fear, worry, and loss of independence may also lead to depression, anxiety, or panic, especially if a person has suffered from any of these in the past.
Symptoms of PPPD include generalised unsteadiness, persistent dizziness, movement (especially walking) disorders, and avoidance behaviours, increasing the person’s sense of disability. Patients feel more debilitated by other causes of dizziness when PPPD is present alongside them. There is no single diagnostic test for PPPD, but rather a combination of self-report, case history and questionnaires that contribute to the diagnosis. PPPD is identifiable when a professional in the field of Audiology or ENT (who understands the criteria) makes the diagnosis by excluding any other identifiable and active cause of dizziness, and/or assesses the severity of the emotional, psychological, and functional impact of dizziness on a person’s quality of life, to exceed that which is reasonably explained by other clinical results.
PPPD is treatable! Firstly, any existing balance problem that can be recalibrated through rehabilitation should be achieved with your audiologist, to reduce the impact of an underlying cause. Some audiologists can provide specific cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling, which reduces the anxiety. Negative thoughts and avoidant behaviours can be changed, leading to improvements. Medication may occasionally be needed (usually temporarily) to assist in managing acute anxiety.