Telling the Difference Between Vertigo and Dizziness
People often use the word "dizziness" when they are talking about a
variety of symptoms, including:
Vertigo (a feeling of spinning or whirling when
you are not actually moving).
Unsteadiness (a sense of imbalance or
staggering when standing or walking). This sometimes is called
Lightheadedness or feeling as if you are about to
faint (presyncope). This may mean there is a heart problem or low blood
Dizziness caused by breathing too rapidly
(hyperventilation) or anxiety.
It is important for your doctor to know which of these
symptoms you mean when you say, "I am dizzy," because the cause, diagnosis, and
treatment are different for each symptom. When someone complains of dizziness,
the symptom is vertigo only about half of the time.
For more information about whether your symptom really is vertigo,
see the topic Dizziness: Lightheadedness and Vertigo. It can help you tell the
difference between vertigo and other types of dizziness.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKarin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology