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Vertigo is a type of dizziness or false feeling that you are moving or that everything is spinning around you. Vertigo is a symptom that may be caused by diseases or conditions that affect the vestibular system. This system helps keep you in balance, even while you are moving, and includes the inner ear, nerves and brain. The inner ear contains the nerve of the ear and small organs that help you hear and maintain your balance.


Vertigo may be caused by conditions affecting the part of the ear or brain that controls balance. These conditions may be any of the following:

  • Benign positional vertigo: This happens when small particles that float in the inner ear fluid get out of place and cause irritation.
  • Meniere's disease: This disease happens when the pressure in the inner ear increases because of too much ear fluid.
  • Vestibular neuritis: An inflammation (swelling) of the nerve in your ear caused by an infection.
  • Other causes:
    • Ear trauma: Injuries to the head and neck area, side effects of medicines and chemicals may also cause ear trauma.
    • Inner ear infections
    • Neurologic conditions: Neurologic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, migraine, tumor or stroke may cause vertigo. Behavior problems, such as mood, panic and anxiety disorders, may also cause vertigo.
    • Alcohol: People who drink alcohol too much and too often may have vertigo.

Signs and symptoms

You may feel that you or everything around you is moving or spinning. You may also feel like you are being pulled downwards toward the floor or toward your side. Symptoms may occur after changing positions, such as turning over in bed or moving your head or neck. You may have nausea or vomiting. You may also have trouble with your balance, which may cause you to fall down.

Other signs and symptoms may also be present and may help point to the disease or condition that is causing your vertigo. These signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Being highly sensitive to light or sound
  • Body weakness, slurred speech, problems seeing, increased sleepiness or problems while moving
  • Facial weakness and headache
  • Hearing loss, ear fullness or pain or hearing ringing sounds
  • Nystagmus (abnormal fast movement of the eyes): You may not feel or know this movement is happening.


  • Health history: Your doctor will take a detailed health history from you. You may also be asked to provide information about your past diseases, travels, activities, trauma and medicines you have taken now and in the past.
  • Complete physical exam
  • Tests: Different tests may be done based on your health history, the pattern of your vertigo and other signs and symptoms. It may also be based on the findings from your physical exam. Any of the following may be performed:
    • EKG
    • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test
    • Blood tests
    • Cervical spine X-rays
    • CT scan
    • Lumbar puncture
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


Treatment will depend on the condition causing the vertigo. Your health care provider may suggest bed rest, avoiding certain activities, and changing your diet, such as decreasing salt intake. If you are using medicines that may be causing your vertigo, they may need to be decreased or stopped. Treatment may also include any of the following:

  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Therapy: A form of exercise therapy may be used to help decrease your dizziness, improve your balance and prevent injuries.

For more information about DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital’s audiology and hearing services or to make an appointment, call 313-966-4725.