Dizziness or vertigo is a symptom that usually occurs as a result of an irritation to the inner ear or an inner-ear disease. This is usually a sign of some deeper condition marked by infection or inflammation.

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About This Condition

Understanding Dizziness (Vertigo)

Causes of Dizziness/Vertigo

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

This is the most common cause of vertigo. BPPV is also called benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV). Because BPV comes on quickly, you should think about if you are safe to drive or do other tasks that need your full attention.


  • Causes vertigo that last for seconds. Vertigo can occur several times a day, depending on body position.

  • Doesn’t cause hearing loss.

  • Often goes away on its own. But it but may go away sooner with treatment.

Infection or inflammation

Sometimes the semicircular canals swell and send incorrect balance signals. This problem may be caused by a viral infection. Depending on the cause, your hearing can be affected (labyrinthitis). Or your hearing can remain normal (neuronitis).

Infection or inflammation:

  • Causes vertigo that lasts for hours or days. The first episode is usually the worst.

  • Can cause hearing loss.

  • Often goes away on its own. But it may go away sooner with treatment.

You may need vestibular rehabilitation if you have balance problems that don't go away.

Meniere’s disease

This condition is uncommon. It happens when there is too much fluid in the ear canals. This causes increased pressure and swelling. It affects balance and hearing signals.

Meniere’s disease may:

  • Cause vertigo that last for hours.

  • Cause hearing problems that come and go. The problems are usually in one ear and get worse over time.

  • Cause buzzing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

  • Cause a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear.

  • Cause any of these symptoms: vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, or ear fullness to last a lifetime.

Staying Safe

Falls or accidents can lead to pain, broken bones, and fear of future falls. Protect yourself and others by preparing for episodes. Simple steps can help you stay safe at home and wherever you go.


Keep all areas well lit. This helps your eyes send the right signals to the brain. It also makes you less likely to trip and fall. If bright lights make symptoms worse, dim the lights or lie in a dark room until the dizziness passes. Then turn the lights back to their normal level.


  • Keep a flashlight by the bed.

  • Place nightlights in bathrooms and hallways.

  • Replace burned-out bulbs, or have someone replace them for you.

Preventing falls

To reduce your risk of falling:

  • Get out of bed or up from a chair slowly.

  • Wear low-heeled shoes that fit properly and have slip-resistant soles.

  • Remove throw rugs. Clear clutter from walkways.

  • Use handrails on stairs. Have handrails installed or adjusted if needed.

  • Install grab bars in the bathroom. Don't use towel racks for balance.

  • Use a shower stool. Also put adhesive strips in the shower or on the tub floor.

Going out

With a little time and preparation, you can get around safely.


  • Bring a cane or walking aid if needed.

  • Give yourself plenty of time in case you start to get dizzy.

  • Ask your healthcare provider what type of exercise is safe for your condition.

  • Be patient. If an activity such as walking through a crowded shop causes you stress, you may not be ready for it yet.


If you become dizzy or disoriented while driving, you could hurt yourself and others. That's why it's best to not drive until symptoms have gone away. In some cases, your license may be temporarily held until it's safe for you to drive again.

For safety:

  • Ask a friend to drive for you.

  • Take public transportation.

  • Walk to stores and other places when you can.

Managing Dizziness/Vertigo with Medicines

Although medicines can't cure your problem, they can help control symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medicine for a few weeks and then taper them off. Always take your medicine as prescribed. Never share your medicine with others.

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have side effects from your medicines

How medicines can help

  • Treat infection or inflammation. If you have an infection caused by bacteria, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.

  • Limit conflicting balance signals. These medicines are often in pill form.

  • Ease nausea. Suppositories, pills, or shots can reduce vomiting.

  • Reduce pressure in the canals. Diuretics can be used to treat Meniere's disease. These medicines help your body get rid of extra fluid.

  • Ease other symptoms. Other medicines can help ease depression and anxiety caused by living with dizziness or fainting.

Other treatments can involve physical therapy or vestibular rehab done by a physical therapist trained in treating inner ear disorders.

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