What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is commonly caused by a sudden internal or external spinning sensation, often triggered by moving your head too quickly. At times, the vertigo causes aren't due to underlying disease but could possibly be due to spinning in circles or medication side effects. Some vertigo cases are resolved without any medical treatment. However, if your vertigo is due to any underlying health condition, you might need treatment such as prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection or antiviral drugs for shingles. Also depending on the health condition, the symptoms can be relieved by prescribed medicines. Find out more about vertigo here.

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About Vertigo

People suffering from vertigo have a constant sensation of dizziness. For them, it feels as though the room or their surroundings are spinning, which makes them feel light-headed. It is essential to understand that vertigo is not a health condition but rather a symptom.

Vertigo can be associated with a range of health issues. It occurs when you are suffering from a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve. Typically, there are two categories of vertigo:

1. Peripheral Vertigo

It occurs due to issues in the inner ear or vestibular nerve. The vestibular nerve connects the inner ear with the brain.

2. Central Vertigo

It happens when there’s a problem in the brain. You can suffer from central vertigo due to a stroke, traumatic brain injury, infection, brain tumour, or multiple sclerosis.

People over the age of 65 years are most likely to suffer from vertigo, and it can either be a long-term symptom or a temporary one. Pregnant women also experience vertigo due to ear infection. Additionally, people having an inner ear disorder (Ménière’s disease) sometimes suffer from vertigo too.

In this section, we have discussed, in detail, vertigo causes, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures. Let us begin by understanding vertigo symptoms.

Symptoms of Vertigo

If you are suffering from vertigo, you are most likely to feel dizzy. Since vertigo is a symptom of various health issues, it often occurs with other symptoms such as:


  • Feeling off-balance

  • Light-headedness

  • Motion sickness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)

  • A feeling of fullness in the ear

  • Headaches

When it comes to vertigo symptoms, people usually confuse them with mere dizziness. Hence, it is essential to understand the difference between the two before we understand the causes of vertigo.

Vertigo vs. Dizziness

People experiencing vertigo feel that they are moving or their surroundings are spinning. Basically, they get a sense of movement when there is no actual movement. However, when it comes to dizziness, patients tend to interpret it as a sense of imbalance within their own space.

Causes of Vertigo

Several health conditions can lead to vertigo. Some of these include the following:

1. Labyrinthitis

It occurs when an infection leads to inflammation of the inner ear labyrinth. It is the area where the vestibulocochlear nerve is located. The nerve is known to be connected to the brain and manages head motions, positions, and sound. When a person is suffering from labyrinthitis, along with vertigo, he/she can experience loss of hearing, tinnitus, headaches, ear pain, and vision changes.

2. Vestibular Neuritis

It is an infection that causes inflammation of the vestibular nerve. It is similar to labyrinthitis but does not affect a patient’s hearing. However, when suffering from vestibular neuritis, along with vertigo, the patient can experience blurred vision, severe nausea, or a feeling of imbalance.

3. Cholesteatoma

It is a non-cancerous skin development in the middle ear that happens due to repeated infection. However, as it grows behind the eardrum, it can damage the bone structure of the ear, leading to loss of hearing and vertigo.

4. Ménière’s Disease

This infection occurs due to fluid build-up in the inner ear, leading to vertigo and loss of hearing. It is highly common in people between the ages of 40 and 60 years.

Besides these factors, vertigo can also occur due to:


  • Migraine headaches

  • Head injuries

  • Ear surgery

  • Perilymphatic fistula

  • Shingles

  • Otosclerosis

  • Syphilis

  • Ataxia

  • Brain stem disease

  • Acoustic neuroma

  • Multiple sclerosis

Additionally, prolonged bed rest and some medications can also cause vertigo.

Vertigo in Pregnancy

Nausea and dizziness are common during pregnancy. A woman goes through major hormonal changes that can affect the characteristics of the fluids in her body. When these changes affect the inner ear, it can lead to:


  • Vertigo

  • Loss of balance

  • Tinnitus and hearing difficulties

  • A feeling of ear fullness

However, as the pregnancy progresses, women get used to the new balance in the ear, which improves the symptoms of nausea and dizziness. If vertigo-related symptoms during pregnancy are discomforting, get in touch with your doctor for further treatment. Do not consume any medication without consulting your doctor.

Is Vertigo Hereditary?

As stated earlier, vertigo is a symptom associated with many health conditions. In itself, the condition is not necessarily hereditary. However, if a patient has recurrent vertigo, then it can be associated with their genetics. Researchers have been exploring the genetic profile of various health conditions that can lead to vertigo. These include:


  • Familial episodic ataxia

  • Migrainous vertigo

  • Bilateral vestibular hypofunction

  • Familial Ménière’s disease

Your doctor can inquire about your family’s medical history when diagnosing vertigo.

Diagnosis of Vertigo

Vertigo is diagnosed with clinical examinations. Your doctor can recommend tests and observations such as head impulse testing or Dix-Hallpike maneuver to diagnose vertigo. Additionally, other tests such as imaging or tests of auditory or vestibular systems can be recommended.

Treatment for Vertigo

Some vertigo cases are resolved without any medical treatment. However, if your vertigo is due to any underlying health condition, you might need treatment for the said issue. For instance, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection or antiviral drug for shingles.

Depending on the underlying health concern, the doctor will prescribe medications to relieve its symptoms. When it comes to relieving the symptoms of vertigo, drugs such as antihistamines and antiemetics are recommended.

Home Remedies for Vertigo

If you are experiencing vertigo, you can take certain steps at home to resolve its symptoms and limit its effect on your body. These home remedies include:

1. Lifestyle Changes

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the effects of vertigo.


  • When the spinning gets severe, lay in your bed in a quiet and dark room.

  • Sit down as soon as you start feeling dizzy.

  • Take caution when performing movements that can trigger vertigo symptoms.

  • Squat instead of bending over when picking something off the floor

  • Use a cane when walking (if needed).

  • Sleep with your head raised.

  • Make valuable adaptations to your home settings.

  • Turn on lights when you get up in the night to avoid tripping over anything.

Additionally, avoid the use of ladders or driving until the vertigo symptoms resolve completely.

2. Herbal Remedies

A few herbal solutions to relieve the symptoms of vertigo are as follows:


  • Cayenne

  • Turmeric

  • Ginkgo biloba

  • Ginger root

  • Gongjin-dan

There is no evidence upfront to prove that herbal remedies completely resolve vertigo issues. However, clinical trials are underway to prove its effects. Moreover, it is best to consult a doctor before opting for any alternative vertigo treatments.


Vertigo is mostly a symptom of an underlying health condition. While treating vertigo at home can be a short-term solution, if the symptoms recur or get serious overtime, seek medical attention immediately.

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