Symptoms and conditions

Vertigo (severe dizziness)

Vertigo is a symptom rather than a condition. It is defined as an illusion of movement and is a specific type of dizziness which causes the person to feel the sensation that they or their surroundings are moving, even if they are standing completely still.

Some people describe vertigo as feeling ‘wobbly’ or the sensation of spinning, swaying and dizziness. Episodes of vertigo can vary from seconds, minutes to a couple of hours, however bouts of vertigo can last for days.

Vertigo is a symptom of many different conditions and can happen to people of all ages. There are many causes of vertigo and other disorders of balance. It is very important to find out the cause of your dizziness and you should see your General Practitioner for advice, treatment and referral to a specialist if necessary.

Vestibular conditions


BPPV is the commonest cause of vertigo. It can be disabling; occurs in short bursts and is provoked specifically by movement.

Endolymphatic hydrops

A disorder of the inner ear and is thought to be caused by abnormal fluctuations in the fluid called endolymph which fills the hearing and balance structures of the inner ear.


The inflammation of the part of the inner ear called the labyrinth, it can make people feel dizzy and hearing is often affected.

Mal de debarquement (MdDS)

A symptom of the illusion of movement after travel which results in the sensation of bobbing or swaying.

Ménière’s disease

A progressive condition affecting the balance and hearing parts of the inner ear. Symptoms include acute attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, increasing deafness and the feeling of pressure in the ear.


Damage to the inner ear caused by drugs/chemicals.

Perilymph fistula

A tear or defect in the oval window in the ear, symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, nausea, vomiting and hearing loss.

Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD)

The symptoms of PPPD are dizziness, unsteadiness and non-spinning vertigo for most days over a three month period. Symptoms can be exacerbated by change of posture, movement, visual stimuli, fatigue and stress.

Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome (SSCD)

Superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome results from an opening (dehiscence) in the bone overlying the superior (uppermost) semicircular canal within the inner ear.

Vestibular migraine

Migraine does not mean “headache”!  In fact, there are many types of migraine that involve no headache at all.  It just so happens that the most common two types of migraine in the population are the headache varieties; Common Migraine and Classical migraine.

Vestibular neuritis

An infection of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear causing balance problems. It is often used synonymously with labyrinthitis.

Associated symptoms

As well as dizziness (vertigo) people with vestibular conditions may also experience:
- fullness
- headaches
hearing loss
- tinnitus
- sensitivity to noise
- drop attacks (Tumarkin's otolithic crisis)

Non-vestibular causes of dizziness

Around one in four people experience dizziness. Although it becomes more common with age, it can occur for a variety of reasons. People with a vestibular disorder may also experience dizziness due to other causes.

Balance Disorder Spectrum

View the Balance Disorder Spectrum for more information about conditions causing dizziness and imbalance.

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