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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a false sense of motion. Sometimes it feels like spinning and other times it feels like the room is tilting.

What causes vertigo?

Vertigo can be caused by problems in the inner ear or less commonly in the brain. Special testing can help determine which is the cause.

If I feel dizzy, but do not have vertigo, then what is wrong with me?

Many other things can cause dizziness. A sensation of lightheadedness usually is the result of decreased blood flow to the brain (like when you stand up too fast after sitting for awhile). Low blood sugar and hyperventilating during moments of anxiety can also cause lightheadedness.

A sensation of being off balance can be caused by decreased inner ear function, and is made worse in people with decreased feeling in the feet and poor vision. This is common in people as they age, especially if they have diabetes.

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Last Reviewed: Jul 27, 2011

Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Skull Base Surgery Fellowship, Director of Adults Cochlear Implantation Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati