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

Is 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.


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

Ménière’s disease

Is 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.

Migraine-associated vertigo

There are several symptoms associated with migraine but approximately 10% of people with migraine experience unusual symptoms (called an aura). The aura part of the migraine can include symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.

Mal de debarquement

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

Perilymph fistula

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

Superior canal dehiscence syndrome

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

Vestibular neuritis

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

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.

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