What it is vertigo?
Vertigo is a type of dizziness that is often described as feeling that you are spinning or that the world is spinning around you, particularly if you change position.
What causes vertigo?
Vertigo is the result of an inner ear problem. The most common cause is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles clump together in the inner ear, affecting the messages sent from your inner ear to your brain regarding balance.
Other causes of vertigo include head injuries, stroke, circulation problems, infections, inner ear disorders, and the degeneration of inner ear structures. Inner ear problems include Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis. Vestibular neuritis is a swelling or infection of the nerve supplying a bone in the inner ear, and labyrinthitis is a swelling or infection of the inner ear.
If you have vertigo, it may feel like you are spinning, swaying or feeling unbalanced. People with vertigo may also have:
- ringing in the ears
Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
Treatment depends on the cause. In most cases vertigo goes away without treatment. Stress can increase symptoms of dizziness and nausea, and reducing stress can help reduce the symptoms.
If symptoms persist see your doctor. They may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Vestibular rehabilitation or balance training – this is a type of physical therapy that strengthens the vestibular system.
- Canalith repositioning measures – this is useful if the cause is BPPV. The treatment moves calcium deposits out of the canal so they can be absorbed by the body.
- Medicine – medication can be used to relieve some symptoms of vertigo such as nausea, and antibiotics can treat a bacterial infection. Diuretics, or water pills, may be prescribed to reduce the swelling associated with Meniere’s disease.
- Surgery – surgery is only needed in a few cases.
Last reviewed: August 2015