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Vertigo and Dizziness

Young female having hangover or vertigo. Studio portrait over blue background. Concept of

Vertigo and Dizziness

What is the difference between vertigo and dizziness? 

Vertigo is very common and accounts for approximately 54% of cases of dizziness (Cranfield et al., 2010). Patients with vertigo will describe a sensation of movement of the environment around them. A patient may say they feel like the room is spinning or that they feel like they are spinning within the room. Vertigo is commonly confused with dizziness, which is a more general term.


Dizziness can be classified into four main groups: 

  1. Vertigo - spinning sensation 

  2. Disequilibrium - feeling of imbalance 

  3. Light-headedness - feeling giddy 

  4. Presyncope - feeling faint 


What are some common causes of vertigo? 

The causes of vertigo may be central (involving parts of the brain, in particular the cerebellum, which is our balance centre) or peripheral (involving the inner ear, otherwise known as the vestibular apparatus). The most common causes of vertigo seen in health care are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular neuronitis (VN) and Ménière’s disease. All of these causes of vertigo are benign, and treatment involves reassurance and symptom management. 


Vertigo can also be a result of trauma or injury to the head and or neck. There are a number of other causes of Vertigo and other balance issues. 


How can Physio help? 

A thorough assessment can help to differentiate vertigo from other types of dizziness. Physiotherapists are trained to be able to treat certain types of dizziness disorders, such as BPPV as well as general balance and falls prevention. Your Physiotherapist may refer you to someone who specialises in dizziness and balance disorders if it is something that is beyond their scope of practice.

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