Signs and Symptoms of Vertigo

Vertigo, or dizziness, refers to the sensation of spinning (subjective vertigo) or the perception that surrounding objects are moving or spinning (objective vertigo). Some patients describe a feeling of being pulled toward the floor or toward one side of the room. Moving the head, changing position, and turning while lying down often worsen vertigo.

The sudden onset of vertigo usually indicates a peripheral vestibular disorder (inner ear disturbance; e.g., BPPV, Ménière disease, vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis).

Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) usually last a few seconds to a few minutes and are intermittent (i.e., come and go). They also may include lightheadedness, imbalance and nausea, usually as a result of a change in position (e.g., rolling over in bed, getting out of bed).

Symptoms of Ménière disease and vestibular neuritis include vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and ear pressure that often lasts hours to days.

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

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015