Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or spinal cord or a problem within in the inner ear. Head injuries, certain medications, and female gender are associated with a higher risk of vertigo. Medical history, a physical exam, and sometimes an MRI or CT scan are required to diagnose vertigo. The treatment of vertigo may include medication, special exercises to reposition loose crystals in the inner ear, or exercises designed to help the patient re-establish a sense of equilibrium. Controlling risk factors for stroke (blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and blood glucose) may decrease the risk of developing vertigo. Read more: What Can Trigger Vertigo? Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
What Is Multiple Sclerosis? MS Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis
MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the central nervous system. Learn about multiple sclerosis (MS) causes,...
Stroke Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery
What is a stroke? Learn about stroke symptoms like sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, vision problems, or problems with...
Balance Disorders: Vertigo, Motion Sickness, Labyrinthitis, and More
What is vertigo? What causes dizziness? Understand different balance disorders and symptoms such as vertigo, motion sickness,...
Weird Body Quirks in Pictures: Brain Freezes, Hiccupping, & More
Ice cream brain freeze, hiccups, charley horses, vertigo--what's behind these weird body quirks anyway? Our experts explain...
Vertigo and Balance Disorders Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the quiz and find out the causes, symptoms, treatments, and ways to prevent the confusing balance disorder called vertigo.
Related Disease Conditions
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is blood pressure that is so low that it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting if not enough blood is getting to the brain. Diseases and medications can also cause low blood pressure. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys; the organs do not function normally and may be permanently damaged.
Inner Ear Infection (Symptoms, Signs, Treatments, Home Remedies)
An inner ear infection or otitis interna is caused by viruses or bacteria and can occur in both adults and children. An inner ear infection can cause symptoms and signs, for example, a severe ear, dizziness, vertigo, nausea and vomiting, and vertigo. An inner ear infection also may cause inflammation of the inner ear or labyrinthitis. Inner ear infections are not contagious; however, the bacteria and viruses that cause the infection can be transmitted to other people. Good hygiene practices will help decrease the chances of the infection spreading to others. Inner ear infection symptoms and signs like ear pain and nausea may be relieved with home remedies or over the counter (OTC) medication. Some inner ear infections will need to be treated and cured with antibiotics or prescription pain or antinausea medication.
Brain Tumor: Warning Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatments, and Cure
A brain tumor can be either non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant), primary, or secondary. Common symptoms of a primary brain tumor are headaches, seizures, memory problems, personality changes, and nausea and vomiting. Causes and risk factors include age, gender, family history, and exposure to chemicals. Treatment is depends upon the tumor type, grade, and location.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Middle ear infection (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear infection, acute and chronic. Acute otitis media is generally short in duration, and chronic otitis media generally lasts several weeks. Babies, toddlers, and children with a middle ear infection may be irritable, pull and tug at their ears, and experience numerous other symptoms and signs. Treatment depends upon the type of ear infection.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Fainting, also referred to as blacking out, syncope, or temporary loss of consciousness has many causes. Often a person will have signs or symptoms prior to the fainting episode. Diagnosis and treatment depends upon the cause of the fainting or syncope episode.
Dizziness is a symptom that often applies to a variety of sensations including lightheadedness and vertigo. Causes of dizziness include low blood pressure, heart problems, anemia, dehydration, and other medical conditions. Treatment of dizziness depends on the cause.
Inner Ear Infection (Labyrinthitis)
Labyrinthitis is inflammation of the labyrinth (the part of the ear responsible for balance and hearing). Doctors do not know the exact cause of labyrinthitis; however, they often are associated viral infections of the inner ear. Symptoms of labyrinthitis are ear pain or earache, ear discharge, problems with balance and walking, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. Viral infections associated with labyrinthitis are contagious. Home remedies may help labyrinthitis symptoms and signs. Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medication may treat inner ear infections, labyrinthitis symptoms like vertigo and nausea, and help ear pain.
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include: Smoking High blood pressure High cholesterol Diabetes Family history Obesity Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life-threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers. Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Cholesterol (Lowering Your Cholesterol)
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in an optimal range will help protect your heart and blood vessels. Cholesterol management may include lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) as well as medications to get your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in an optimal range.
What Are 10 Signs of Vertigo?
What is vertigo? Learn the signs of vertigo and how to manage your vertigo symptoms.
Tinnitus is described as a throbbing, ringing, clicking, or buzzing in one or both ears. Tinnitus is caused by trauma to the ear, over exposure to loud noises, medication, and diseases or infections of the ear such as multiple sclerosis, TMJ, autistic neruoma, Meniere's disease, hearing loss, and aging. Treatments include medication, tinnitus masking, retraining therapy, and relief therapy.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Foreign Objects or Insects in the Ear
Objects or insects in the ear can be placed in the ear by patients themselves or an insect crawling in the ear. Earwax can also cause ear problems if Q-tips are overused to clean the ears. Symptoms of an object in the ear are inflammation and sensitivity, redness, or discharge of pus or blood. When to seek medical care for an object or insect in the ear is included in the article information.
Trichinosis Worm Infection
Trichinosis is a food-borne disease caused by ingesting parasites (roundworms) in undercooked pork or wild-game meat. Symptoms of trichinosis include diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, itching, fever, chills, and joint pains.Trichinosis usually resolves without treatment, but more severe cases are treated with thiabendazole (Mintezol), albendazole (Abenza), or mebendazole (Vermox).
Orthostatic hypotension symptoms include: LightheadednessWeaknessBlurred vision Syncope or passing out Causes of orthostatic hypotension include: Dehydration, Anemia, Medication Blood loss Low blood pressure Heat related illnesses Parkinson's disease Diabetes Treatment of orthostatic hypotension depends on the underlying cause.
Arsenic comes in two forms, inorganic and organic. Organic arsenic poisoning is usually not poisonous to humans; however, inorganic arsenic in large enough amounts can lead to shock and death. Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dehydration, dark urine, vertigo, delirium, shock, and death. Treatment for arsenic poisoning includes Hemodialysis and a variety of drugs.
Balance is a state of body equilibrium or stability. We often take for granted how dependent we are on a healthy balance system. When the system breaks down, however, patients will describe symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, lightheadedness, or motion sickness.
MS (Multiple Sclerosis) vs. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Differences and Similarities
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) are both diseases of the nervous system (neurodegenerative). ALS is a disease in which the nerve cells in the body are attacked by the immune system, although it's not considered an autoimmune disease by some scientists. MS is an autoimmune disease in which the insulated covering of the nerves (myelin sheath) in the CNS (central nervous system) degenerate, or deteriorate. Scientists don't know the exact cause of either problem. However, they have discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the SOD1 enzyme were associated with some cases of familial ALS. Scientists also theorize that multiple sclerosis may be caused by infection or vitamin D deficiency. ALS occurs between 50-70 years of age (the average age of occurrence ALS is 55), and mostly affects men. While MS occurs between 20-60 years of age, and mostly affects women. About 30,000 people in the US have ALS, and an average of 5,000 new diagnoses per year (that's about 15 new cases per week). Worldwide, MS affects more than 2.3 million people, with about 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year (that's about 200 new diagnoses per week).Some of the signs and symptoms of both diseases include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, problems walking, fatigue, slurred speech, and problems swallowing. ALS signs and symptoms that are different from MS include problems holding the head upright, clumsiness, muscle cramps and twitches, problems holding objects, and uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying. MS signs and symptoms that are different from ALS include vision problems, vertigo and balance problems, sexual problems, memory problems, depression, mood swings, and digestive problems. There is no cure for either disease, however the prognosis and life expectancy are different. Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal condition, while ALS progresses rapidly and leads to death.
Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Neck Pain and Dizziness
Neck pain is any degree of discomfort in the front or back of the neck between the head and the shoulders. Dizziness is characterized as either vertigo with disequilibrium or lightheadedness associated with feeling faint or the potential to lose consciousness. Causes of neck pain and dizziness vary, and treatment depends on the cause. With any unexplained or persisting neck pain or dizziness, consult with a health care professional, who can determine whether the symptoms are harmless and temporary or serious and threatening.
Meniere disease (idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops) is an inner ear disorder with symptoms that include vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and the sensation of ear fullness. The primary treatments for Meniere disease are diuretics, anti-vertigo, anti-nausea, and low salt diets. Surgery may be recommended if the vertigo cannot be controlled with medication.
Enjoying a healthy diet helps to prevent diseases. A good diet also helps to control celiac disease, control diabetes, control high blood pressure, prevent loss of bone mass, prevent loss of muscle strength, and prevent vitamin deficiencies. Healthy diets also help with weight loss and obesity prevention.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention
Noise-induced hearing loss may be an acoustic trauma, which causes temporary hearing loss, or it may be permanent due to an acute acoustic trauma. Experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 dBs (decibels) is dangerous to the ears. Ear plugs and ear muffs can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss as well as decreasing exposure to loud noises.
Ciguatera poisoning is a type of food poisoning caused by the ciguatera toxin found in a variety of large reef fish found between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, vertigo, numbness, tingling, and muscle pain. Ciguatera poisoning requires medical treatment.
Do Balance Disorders Go Away?
Generally, balance disorders last for a couple of days and the patient recovers slowly over 1 to 3 weeks. However, some patients may experience symptoms that can last for several months. For symptoms that don’t go away with other treatments, the physician might prefer surgery.
Is MS Contagious? (Multiple Sclerosis)
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a degenerative disease of the covering around the nerves in the central nervous system (CNS). Researchers and doctors don't know the exact cause, but many theorize that it may be due to environmental triggers, an autoimmune disease, and viruses (infections). Symptoms of MS include vision changes, paralysis, vertigo, heat intolerance, slurred speech, sexual dysfunction, and urinary incontinence (the inability to urinate). There's no vaccine or cure for MS, but the progression and symptoms of the disease can be treated.
Hearing loss (deafness) may be present at birth or it may manifest later in life. Deafness may be genetic or due to damage from noise. Treatment of deafness depends upon its cause. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by conditions affecting the: cochlea, eighth cranial nerve, spinal cord, or brain. Examples of conditions that can lead to sensorineural hearing loss include: Meniere's disease, noise-induced hearing loss hearing loss of aging (presbycusis), nerve injury from syphilis, hearing loss of unknown cause (idiopathic hearing loss), nerve tumors, and drug toxicity (such as aspirin and aminoglycosides).
Can an Inner Ear Infection Cause Vertigo?
Vertigo, a sensation of feeling off balance, can be a symptom of an inner ear infection or other disorder. Learn more about vertigo, its causes, and treatments.
What Happens After Endolymphatic Sac Decompression Surgery?
Endolymphatic sac decompression surgery is done to drain excess fluid from the inner ear. After this surgery, the operated ear is covered with a Glasscock dressing, which is a special dressing applied to keep the pressure on the site to reduce swelling. There is usually some tenderness and discomfort in the operated ear and throat (from the breathing tube inserted during surgery), which may be controlled by painkillers.
What Is an Endolymphatic Shunt?
An endolymphatic shunt is a surgical procedure that involves placing a small silicone tube in the inner ear to drain excess fluid. This procedure can reverse damage to the ear due to fluid buildup.
What Is the Best Treatment for Vertigo?
Learn medical treatments to help ease your vertigo symptoms and speed up your recovery from vertigo.
How Do You Do the Epley Maneuver?
This is a series of steps you can do at home to help reposition the canalith (bone-like pieces inside the ear canals) and help relieve dizziness or vertigo. Perform the Epley maneuver in six steps.
Is Having a Chiari Malformation Life-Threatening?
Chiari malformation is a condition in which the lower part of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal. It is a relatively rare disorder of the brain and spinal canal that can sometimes cause serious complications.
How Do Doctors Evaluate Dizziness?
Dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness, fainting or a mild feeling of imbalance. Vertigo is the feeling that the stationary things around you are moving. Most dizzy spells are not serious.
What Does Electronystagmography Test For?
Electronystagmography (ENG) is a test that evaluates involuntary (not under conscious control) movements of the eyes (nystagmus). It is generally advised if you have unexplained dizziness, vertigo or hearing loss.
Local ResourcesFind a local Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Vertigo Balance Disorders FAQs
- Vasovagal Syncope
- Vestibular Migraine and Janet Jackson
- Vertigo, Not an Easy Diagnosis
- Ear: Anatomy of Hearing and Balance
- Dialing Up a Tumor on Your Cell Phone
- What Is Cogan Syndrome?
- Vertigo Causes
- Vertigo Treatment
- Motion Sickness: 10 Prevention Tips
- Air Travel, Colds, and Sinus Infections
Medications & Supplements
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- betahistine (oral)
- scopolamine - transdermal, Transderm-Scop
- meclizine - oral, Antivert, D-vert, Dramamine II
- promethazine, Phenergan, Phenadoz, Promethegan
- ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
- meclizine, Antivert, Bonine, Meni-D, Antrizine
- Ondansetron (Zofran) vs. meclizine
- sumatriptan, Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro
- scopolamine, Transderm-Scop
- diphenidol hcl-oral
- Side Effects of Transderm Scop (scopolamine)
- Side Effects of Antivert (meclizine)
Prevention & Wellness
- Two Common Nutrients Might Keep Vertigo at Bay
- Arsenic Found in 73% of Baby Food: 4 Things to Know About Arsenic Poisoning
- New Hope Against a 'Dizzying' Form of Migraine
- Exposure to Insecticide Might Explain Cuba 'Sonic Attack'
- Health Tip: Recognizing Balance Disorders
- Health Tip: Causes of Lightheadedness
- Managing MS
- Half-Dose of Mountain Sickness Med Works as Well as Full Dose
- 'Sonic Attacks' on U.S. Embassy Staff in Cuba May Have Been Crickets
- Health Tip: Feeling Dizzy? When to See Your Doctor
- Newly Identified Form of Vertigo Responds to Treatment
- Many Women Unaware of Female-Specific Stroke Symptoms
- Eye-Tracking Tool Might Quickly Spot Stroke
- YouTube for Do-It-Yourself Vertigo Treatment?
- Study Links Colic in Infants to Migraines in Moms
- Best Treatment for Vertigo Is Easiest One
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter