April 01, 2021

Dizziness and vertigo

Often goes away, but can linger

Dizziness and vertigo can be debilitating, but can go away over time with the help of special therapy steps. When it doesn't, new understanding of persistent dizziness and vertigo have led to improved therapy options.

Dizziness

To many people, the idea of getting out of a chair and walking across the room sounds simple. But for people with chronic, ongoing dizziness or vertigo, this can be a monumental task.

Vertigo refers to the sense that you or your surroundings are suddenly spinning, tilting or moving. Dizziness refers to a different range of sensations, such as feeling faint, woozy or unsteady. Dizziness may also refer to feeling lightheaded or heavy-headed.

Dizziness and vertigo sometimes go away on their own. However, in some cases — such as with severe, sudden, prolonged or recurring symptoms — it's a good idea to seek medical help for a diagnosis and to explore treatment options.

Why you feel dizzy

Your sense of balance relies on combined input from your:

  • Eyes, which help determine spatial orientation and body movement
  • Sensory nerves, which send messages to your brain about body movements and positions
  • Inner ear — including the semicircular canals, utricle and saccule, collectively known as the vestibular labyrinth — which senses gravity and rotational and back-and-forth motion

Problems in the inner ear and conflicting messages between these systems can cause you to lose your sense of balance, feel dizzy or experience vertigo. Conditions that can lead to dizziness and vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — This condition causes a sudden, brief and often rather severe sense that you're spinning or moving. These spells are triggered...