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what is vertigo

What Is Vertigo?

July 13, 2020

“Vertigo is an illusion of motion often described as a feeling that your surroundings are spinning or tilting. It can occur while walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. This can lead to dizziness, imbalance, nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision,” says Shonte Byrd, MD, a board-certified Neurology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Causes of Vertigo

“The most common causes are cold viruses, head trauma, middle or inner-ear infections, and Ménière's disease, a malady when pressure on inner ear fluid becomes too high,” Dr. Byrd explains. “The inner ear is responsible for our sense of balance. Should it dysfunction, we can lose our equilibrium and spatial perception.”

She says vertigo has also been linked to anxiety, a drop in blood pressure, migraines, and multiple sclerosis. Though less common, vertigo can be a sign of a more serious condition such as a brain tumor.


Diagnosis is made through a medical evaluation, preferably by a neurologist or ENT. Most causes of vertigo are treatable with physical therapy, medication, or surgery.

What to Do

“Don’t try to self-medicate – see a doctor immediately if you experience vertigo with any of these symptoms: double vision or loss of vision, hearing loss, trouble speaking, leg or arm numbness or weakness, falling or difficulty walking, or chest pain,” advises Dr. Byrd.

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