Medical Specialties: Geriatrics, Neurology, Otolaryngology

Clinical Definition

Vertigo is a neurological condition characterized by the perception of dizziness, light-headedness, loss of balance, blurred vision and nausea. In many cases, episodes are triggered by a sudden, biomechanical change in the positioning of the head.  

In Our Own Words

What we may call dizziness can actually be further classified into a bunch of different symptoms, as doctors see things. Vertigo is a special kind of dizziness that comes with a whirling sensation, or an illusion that you or the environment are spinning, or that you are heavily weighted or being pulled in one direction.


Getting to the bottom of what is causing dizziness may be a challenge and often requires input from several medical specialties. While vertigo is associated with problems with the inner-ear and its nerves, dizziness, faintness or light-headedness can come from problems with the brain or heart, or may be induced by medications. Treatments for vertigo depend on the cause, but can include repositioning the head, a change in diet, anti-nausea medication, injections of steroids or antibiotics, and, in extreme cases, surgery. 

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • Benign positional vertigo
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • Meniere's disease
Side Effects
  • Dizziness with a sense of spinning
  • Lightheaded
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Dizziness.” Diseases & Conditions. Accessed August 2013.
  • Harvard Medical School. Medical Dictionary of Health Terms. Harvard Health Publications. Accessed August 2013
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