What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a symptom in which you feel as if you are moving, spinning or floating, even if you are stationary. Vertigo is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness, impaired balance, lightheadedness, and nausea. It is estimated that four out of ten Americans may have an episode of vertigo and seek medical attention (Source: NIH).

There are two main types of vertigo, peripheral and central. Peripheral vertigo affects the vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and vestibular nerve and controls balance. Central vertigo is the result of a problem related to the brain.

There are many causes of both types of vertigo, including medication side effects, infection, disorders, and injuries. In some cases, there is no known cause of vertigo. Vertigo may begin or end suddenly, or gradually worsen over time. Vertigo may be temporary or long-term, depending on the underlying cause.

Vertigo may be a symptom of serious or life-threatening condition, such as a traumatic brain injury. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have vertigo and other serious symptoms, such as changes in consciousness, vomiting, severe headache, and abnormal behavior.

Seek prompt medical care if your vertigo is persistent or causes you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with vertigo?

Vertigo may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the vestibular system may also involve other body systems.... Read more about vertigosymptoms

CAUSES

What causes vertigo?

There are two main types of vertigo, peripheral vertigo and central vertigo. Peripheral vertigo occurs as the result of a problem with the vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and vestibular nerve and controls balance. Central vertigo is the result of a problem related to the brain. In some cases, there is no known cause of vertigo.... Read more about vertigocauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves