Vertigo is the feeling that you or the environment is spinning or moving. It is different from dizziness since vertigo basically describes an illusion of movement. Once an individual feels that he/she is moving, it is known as subjective vertigo. If the individual has a perception that the surroundings are moving, it is called objective vertigo.

Causes of vertigo

Always bear in mind that vertigo can be caused by problems in the inner ear or in the brain.

  • The most common form of vertigo is benign paroxysmal position vertigo. It is characterized by the sensation of motion triggered by abrupt head movements or moving the head in a particular direction. This type of vertigo is not serious and can be easily treated.
  • Vertigo can be caused by the inflammation within the interior ear that is characterized by the abrupt onset of vertigo and can be linked with hearing loss.
  • Acoustic neuroma is a type of tumor affecting the nerve tissue in the ear that can lead to vertigo.
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Head trauma and neck injury
  • Migraine
  • Diabetic complications such as arteriosclerosis

Symptoms of vertigo

Vertigo is the sensation of motion either of the surroundings or the individual. It is often perceived as the spinning of the surroundings. This can be confused with symptoms of light-headedness or fainting.

  • Sensation of disorientation or motion that is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, abnormal eye movements and sweating.
  • The duration of the symptoms can range from minutes up to hours and can be episodic or constant. The symptoms can be triggered by movement or change in the position. If there is recent whiplash or head trauma or new medications being taken, inform your doctor.
  • The individual can have hearing loss and ringing sensation in the ears
  • Visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, weakness, difficulty walking and diminished level of consciousness.

When to seek medical care

Any symptoms or signs of vertigo must be checked by a doctor. Most cases of vertigo are considered harmless. Even though the condition can be debilitating, most of the causes can be easily treated with medications. It is important to check for any signs and symptoms to rule out serious or life-threatening causes.

Signs and symptoms of vertigo that need evaluation in the emergency department at the hospital include:


If vertigo is accompanied with headache, it is best to seek medical care.

  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Difficulty walking, weakness of the arms or legs and lack of coordination
  • Altered level of consciousness, difficulty arousing and not acting appropriately

Treatment for vertigo

When it comes to the treatment for vertigo, there are various treatment options including medications, self-care remedies and physical therapy maneuvers.

First aid measures at home can be performed if the individual is already diagnosed with vertigo and under supervision of a doctor.

  • Instruct the individual to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid substances that can affect the circulation including tobacco, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Herbal remedies such as ginger root, coriander and gingko biloba can help minimize the symptoms of vertigo
  • The modified Epley maneuver is often prescribed which involves head and body movements that are performed while sitting on a bed. It is performed in a doctor’s office, but can also be prescribed at home.
  • Vitamin D supplementation can be useful for individuals who are diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.