Vertigo is a sensation of motion or spinning that is often described as dizziness.
Vertigo is not the same as light-headedness. People with vertigo feel as though they are actually spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around them.
There are two types of vertigo:
Peripheral vertigo may be caused by:
Central vertigo may be caused by:
The main symptom is a sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning. The spinning sensation may cause nausea and vomiting.
Other symptoms can include:
If you have vertigo due to problems in the brain (central vertigo), you will usually other symptoms, including:
The doctor or nurse will examine you. This may show:
Tests that may be done include:
Medications to treat peripheral vertigo may include:
The cause of any brain disorder causing vertigo should be identified and treated when possible.
Persistent balance problems may improve with physical therapy. To prevent worsening of symptoms during episodes of vertigo, try the following:
You may need help walking when symptoms occur. Avoid hazardous activities such as driving, operating heavy machinery, and climbing until 1 week after symptoms have disappeared.
Other treatment depends on the cause of the vertigo. Surgery may be suggested in some cases.
The outcome depends on the cause.
Vertigo can interfere with driving, work, and lifestyle. It can also cause falls, which can lead to many injuries, including hip fractures.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have vertigo that does not go away or interferes with your daily activities.
Peripheral vertigo; Central vertigo
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Kerber KO, Baloh RW. Dizziness, vertigo, and hearing loss: Vascular malformations. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Bradley: Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier; 2008:chap 18.
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.
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