Vertigo, or dizziness, is one of the most common health problems in adults. Anyone who has experienced vertigo knows just how difficult it can be to cope with this condition.

Vertigo usually results from a disorder or disturbance in the vestibular system, which is comprised of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, the brainstem, and the cerebellum, and is responsible for maintaining balance and equilibrium. In addition to dizziness, vertigo can produce the sensation of spinning (called subjective vertigo) or that surrounding objects are spinning (called objective vertigo), lightheadedness, unsteadiness, and nausea. Common causes for dizziness include benign paroxysmal position vertigo (BPPV), inner ear damage or infection, head trauma, medications (e.g., aspirin, cold medicines, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs), and diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis [MS], kidney disease, thyroid disorders, Ménière disease).

Here are some questions to ask your neurologist about vertigo. Print this page, check off the questions you would like answered, and take it with you to your doctor appointment.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Vertigo

  • What do you suspect is causing my vertigo? Why do you suspect this cause?
  • What kinds of activities may trigger or worsen my vertigo symptoms? Is there anything I should do or avoid doing to help reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms?
  • What types of examinations, evaluations, and/or diagnostic tests will be performed to determine if an underlying condition is causing my dizziness?
  • How do I prepare for these exams and tests?
  • Do you recommend that I see a specialist or visit a hospital or medical center that specializes in vertigo for my condition? Why or why not?
  • What is the usual prognosis for people with this type of vertigo? In addition to dizziness, what other symptoms and complications related to this type of vertigo may develop?
  • What should I do if I experience new symptoms or serious complications? Telephone number to call:
  • Can the underlying cause for my vertigo usually be successfully treated? If so, do you expect treatment to resolve my dizziness and other vertigo symptoms?
  • What is the recommended treatment for my vertigo? Why do you recommend this treatment?
  • If this treatment is unsuccessful, what other treatment options might you recommend?
  • Will I undergo vestibular rehabilitation therapy to treat my vertigo? If so, how often will I have therapy and how long will therapy last?
  • What is the canalith repositioning procedure, also called the Epley maneuver? Might this technique be used to treat my vertigo?
  • Will medication(s) be used to treat my vertigo? If so, which medications?
  • What are the most common side effects of the medication(s)?
  • What types of severe side effects may occur? What should I do if I experience severe side effects? Telephone number to call:
  • Might surgery be required to treat my condition? Why or why not?
  • If I do require surgery, what type of surgery may be performed and how do I prepare for the procedure?
  • What can I expect following surgery to treat vertigo?
  • What should I do if I experience complications after surgery? Telephone number to call:
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a vertigo clinical trial or explore newer treatment options?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for patients with vertigo?

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 26 Jan 2008

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015