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Visual height intolerance occurs when a visual stimulus causes apprehension of losing balance and falling from some height. Affecting one-third of the population, it has a broad spectrum of symptoms, ranging from minor distress to fear of heights, which is defined as a specific phobia. Specific phobias are associated with higher alcohol consumption. This has not been specifically shown for susceptibility to the more general visual height intolerance.
Representative case–control study nested within a population-based cross-sectional telephone survey to assess epidemiologically 1253 individuals ≥14 years, using a questionnaire on sociodemographic data, typical symptoms, precipitating visual stimuli, and alcohol drinking patterns (overall frequency of alcohol consumption, the daily quantities, and the motives).
Individuals susceptible or nonsusceptible to visual height intolerance showed no significant differences in drinking patterns. The daily average alcohol consumption was slightly higher in persons susceptible to visual height intolerance (4.1 g/day vs. 3.7 g/day). Of those consuming alcohol, cases and controls reported on average consuming 2.3 glasses per day. The prevalence of visual height intolerance was insignificantly higher in the small minority of those drinking 2–3 times per week versus teetotalers.
Our study does not provide evidence that visual height intolerance – contrary to various specific phobias – is significantly associated with individual alcohol consumption patterns.