Distinguish Dizziness from Vertigo

People throw around the word "vertigo" a lot without realizing that it's completely different from the dizziness that most people experience. If you too are not sure how to distinguish these two medical terms from each other, here are some pieces of practical information about them.

What is Dizziness?
Dizziness is also known as lightheadedness. When you're feeling dizzy, it's as if you're about to faint or pass out. This sensation often goes away quickly if you sit or lie down, or if you take a break from what you are doing, like using the computer or carrying heavy loads. Lightheadedness can also be accompanied by nausea or vomiting. It can also result in fainting if the condition gets worse.

Dizziness/lightheadedness usually does not have a serious underlying problem. It is typically caused by a temporary drop in blood pressure. A person can also feel dizzy when he gets up too quickly from a seated or lying position. Other causes include allergies such as flu or colds, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, dehydration, hyperventilation, anxiety, stress, and use of alcohol, cigarette or illegal drugs.

However, dizziness can also be caused by a serious medical condition like bleeding and abnormal heart rhythm. For these instances, it's a must to see a doctor immediately.

What is Vertigo?
Vertigo on the other hand is a sensation wherein a person feels as if he himself or his surrounding is moving. The feeling is similar to spinning, falling, tilting or whirling. Because of this, the person would have difficulty in walking, standing or moving. It can even cause the person to lose his balance and fall off. Like dizziness, vertigo can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Vertigo can either be subjective or objective.

In subjective vertigo, the person feels as if he is spinning around.

In objective vertigo, the person feels that his surrounding is moving around.
This condition is further categorized into different forms, which include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, central vertigo, migrainous vertigo, peripheral vertigo and physiologic vertigo.

Vertigo occurs when a person has a disorder in the peripheral vestibular system or inner ear structures. It can also be caused by a disorder in the central vestibular system such as the brainstem, cerebellum, or the vestibular nerve.

Other causes of vertigo include Ménière's disease, vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, injury to the ear or head, migraine headaches, and decreased blood flow from the arteries to the base of the brain. There are some cases, however, wherein the origin of the vertigo cannot be determined.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention if the vertigo leads to loss of function. Loss of function even in just one area of the body can signal a brain problem, including stroke or transient ischemic attack.

 


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