Descriptions of vestibular migraine and Menière’s disease in Greek and Chinese antiquity

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Huppert D, Brandt T.


Background Vestibular migraine and Menière’s disease are two types of episodic vertigo syndromes that were already observed in Greek and Chinese antiquity. Descriptions first appeared in the work of the classical Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia, who lived in the 2nd century AD, and in Huangdi Neijing, a seminal medical source in the Chinese Medical Classics, written between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. Aim The aim of this paper is to search in Aretaeus’ book De causis et signis acutorum et chronicorum morborum and in Huangdi Neijing for descriptions of vertigo co-occurring with headache or ear symptoms that resemble current classifications of vestibular migraine or Menière’s disease. Results Aretaeus describes a syndrome combining headache, vertigo, visual disturbance, oculomotor phenomena, and nausea that resembles the symptoms of vestibular migraine. In the Chinese book Huangdi Neijing the Yellow Thearch mentions the co-occurrence of episodic dizziness and a ringing noise of the ears that recalls an attack of Menière’s disease. Conclusions The descriptions of these two conditions in Greek and Chinese antiquity are similar to the vertigo syndromes currently classified as vestibular migraine and Menière’s disease. In clinical practice it may be difficult to clearly differentiate between them, and they may also co-occur.



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