Objectives: To determine the incidence of use of complementary therapies in patients with vestibular symptoms undergoing vestibular assessment.
Design: A prospective, questionnaire-based study.
Setting: A UK university hospital department of audiology with secondary and tertiary referrals.
Participants: A consecutive series of 80 patients seen for vestibular assessment between November 2004 and May 2005.
Main outcome measures: Use of complementary therapies; actual therapies used and patients' subjective opinion of efficacy.
Results: Thirteen patients (16 per cent) had tried some form of complementary therapy for their vestibular symptoms. Ginkgo biloba and acupuncture were the two most popular treatments. Seven patients made their decision as to which treatment to try on the basis of personal recommendation. Six of the 13 patients (46 per cent) reported that their choice of treatment(s) helped them.
Conclusions: Sixteen per cent of patients seen for vestibular assessment had tried some form of complementary therapy for their vestibular symptoms. Clinicians should be aware of this and of the potential interactions between complementary therapies and conventional medicine.