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What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning. It differs from dizziness in that vertigo describes an illusion of movement.

Vertigo is caused by problems in the brain or inner ear, including sudden head movements, inflammation within the inner ear due to a viral or bacterial inner ear infection, Meniere's disease, tumors, decreased blood flow to the base of the brain, multiple sclerosis, head trauma and neck injury, migraine headaches, or complications from diabetes. Vertigo is a symptom of other conditions and is not in itself contagious. The duration of symptoms can last for days until the inflammation subsides.

Signs and Symptoms?

Certain signs and symptoms of vertigo may require evaluation in a hospital's emergency department, such as:

  • Sudden onset of symptoms

  • Double vision

  • Headache

  • Weakness

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Fever

  • Abnormal eye movements

  • Altered level of consciousness, not acting appropriately, or difficulty arousing

  • Difficulty walking, lack of coordination, or weakness of the arms and/or legs

When to Seek Medical Care for Vertigo

Any signs and symptoms of vertigo should be evaluated by a doctor. The majority of cases of vertigo are harmless. Although vertigo can be debilitating, most causes are easily treated with prescription medication. Have a doctor check any new signs and symptoms of vertigo to rule out rare, potentially serious, or life-threatening causes. The source of vertigo may be not the ears or balance system (vestibular system) and it is very important to rule-out other life-threatening causes first.

To schedule an appointment with one of our board certified neurologists call 910-295-6868 or visit us online at

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