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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Vertigo


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Vertigo is a type of dizziness or a sensation of movement when none is actually occurring.

What is going on in the body?

People with vertigo either feel they are spinning or rotating abnormally. They may feel that the objects around them are spinning. This condition is not exactly the same as dizziness. Dizziness is more general term for feeling off balance.

Vertigo is usually caused by problems in the inner ear, which helps control balance. It can also be caused by problems with the nerves or parts of the brain that receive and send signals to the ear.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Vertigo has several causes, including:

  • alcohol dependence
  • antibiotics, such as gentamicin
  • benign positional vertigo. This is brought on by certain positions, usually lying flat with the head turned in one direction.
  • disturbances in the function of the inner ear balance structures. This may occur in a condition called Menir's disease.
  • head injury
  • infections of the inner ear, such as acute labyrinthitis
  • migraine headache
  • motion sickness
  • multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disorder
  • phenytoin, a medication used to treat seizures
  • psychological conditions, such as severe anxiety
  • salicylate medications, including aspirin
  • seizures, or abnormal electrical activity in the brain
  • stroke, which occurs when a part of the brain doesn't get enough oxygen
  • transient ischemic attack, which is similar to a stroke but lasts only a brief time
  • trauma, or injury, to the inner ear structures
  • brain tumors that affect the nerve or part of the brain associated with balance
  • Other causes are also possible. Sometimes, no cause can be found.


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    Vertigo: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/06/01

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