Vertigo: All You Need to Know

Vertigo: All You Need to Know

Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness. It is a sensation that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning, when there is no actual movement. This feeling may be barely noticeable, or it may be so severe that you find it hard to keep your balance and do everyday tasks, making normal life very difficult.

Symptoms of Vertigo

The symptoms of vertigo include a sense of moving or spinning. These symptoms can be present even when one is perfectly still. Movement of the head or body, in certain ways, can worsen the symptoms.

Other symptoms that may accompany vertigo include:

  • Loss of balance (tilting, swaying, which can make it difficult to stand or walk)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or hearing loss

Symptoms can last a few minutes to a few hours, and may be constant or may come and go.

Causes of Vertigo

The inner ear sends signals to the brain about head and body movements and helps you keep your balance. Vertigo is most often caused by an inner ear problem. Sometimes, problems in certain parts of the brain may also cause vertigo.

Some of the most common causes of vertigo include:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It can cause sudden episodes of vertigo that last just a few seconds or minutes. Each episode typically occurs when you move your head in a certain way, such as when you tilt your head up or down or when you turn over or sit up in bed. BPPV is usually caused by small calcium deposits in your inner ear.


This is an inflammation of the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear, usually due to a viral infection such as the common cold or flu. It can result in intense vertigo, as well as some mild hearing loss. Symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks, until the inflammation subsides.

Vestibular neuritis

The vestibular nerve carries messages from the inner ear, about head movement, to the brain. Vestibular neuritis is the inflammation of the vestibular nerve, usually due to a viral infection. It can cause intense, constant vertigo, which can last for days until the infection clears.

Meniere’s disease

This is an inner ear disorder possibly caused by a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in your inner ear. It can cause repeated episodes of severe vertigo lasting as long as several hours. You may also experience hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and a feeling of congestion in the ear.

Other causes

Less commonly, vertigo may also be caused by:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Head injury
  • Multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the central nervous system
  • Stroke, where part of the blood supply to the brain is cut off
  • Tumour in the cerebellum, located at the base of the brain
  • Taking certain types of medications
  • Acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous brain tumour that grows on the acoustic nerve

Self-care for Vertigo

If you suffer from vertigo, there may be some things you can do yourself to help relieve your symptoms:

  • Move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities.
  • Don’t stretch your neck, like when reaching up to a high shelf.
  • Avoid bending down to pick up items.
  • Sleep with your head raised on two or more pillows.
  • Get out of bed slowly and sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or so, before standing up.
  • Sit down immediately when you feel dizzy.
  • Lie still in a quiet, darkened room if you’re experiencing a severe episode of vertigo.
  • Try to relax, as anxiety can make vertigo worse.
  • Be safe: Use a walking stick for stability, if necessary. Avoid driving, until symptoms of vertigo subside.

In many cases, vertigo goes away without any treatment. If required, treatment depends on the cause and may include self-care at home, medications, and special exercises. It is important to see a doctor about vertigo, as many conditions can cause vertigo, and any underlying health issues will need to be treated.

Disclaimer: All material on is provided for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions regarding your symptoms or medical condition and before taking any home remedies or supplements.

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