Is it Vertigo or Just Dizziness? How to Tell the Difference

You may think vertigo and dizziness are one and the same. These two conditions can often be difficult to tell apart, but there are key factors that distinguish them. Knowing the difference can help us to treat it, so read on to learn how to tell the difference so you can get the correct treatment.

What Does It Mean to Be Lightheaded?

When an individual is feeling lightheaded, it is because of a sudden drop in blood pressure or blood flow to the head. This may sound scary, but lightheadedness is common in humans. It is perfectly normal to feel lightheaded occasionally, especially when you get up quickly. Getting up slower helps to prevent the occasional lightheadedness caused by standing.

On the other hand, constant lightheadedness is not normal and should be checked out immediately. If an individual experiences constant lightheadedness, they should contact a medical professional. Ongoing lightheadedness may be due to an underlying condition. Hyperventilation, dehydration, anxiety, drugs, colds, allergies, alcohol, and the flu can all cause an individual to be lightheaded. Certain medications may also cause an individual to be lightheaded as a side effect. Be sure not to discontinue any medications that you believe is causing lightheadedness before consulting with your doctor first. Laying down may temporarily help if you are feeling lightheaded.

What is Dizziness?

Dizziness is considered a general term. People could be describing a variety of different specific symptoms when they say that they are dizzy. People who are dizzy may describe experiencing a loss of balance, disorientation, or lightheadedness. People may also confuse vertigo as dizziness. However, vertigo is not the same as general dizziness.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a type of dizziness. A dizzy person may have vertigo, but not every person who is dizzy has vertigo. Vertigo affects how an individual perceives motion. When stationary, individuals with vertigo may continue to feel like they are moving or their environment is moving. For example, the walls or floor may seem to spin without the individual moving whatsoever. People who have vertigo should see a doctor because this condition is normally caused by an underlying condition. Inner ear disorders are the most common cause of vertigo. Individuals may also develop vertigo during pregnancy.

What Inner Ear Disorders Cause Vertigo?

Meniere’s Disease

This disease can be serious because if left untreated, there may be permanent hearing damage in some individuals. The disease also progresses over time. This means that the symptoms may change or get worse. Some common symptoms of this disease are vertigo, anxiety, blurry vision, nausea, diarrhea, cold sweats, and a rapid pulse.

This disease is caused by the buildup of fluids in the inner ear. Doctors aren’t completely certain as to what exactly causes the buildup of fluids. It may be caused by one thing or a combination of things. Some estimated causes are poor drainage, blows to the head, viral infections, allergic reactions, and migraines.


If you have an inner ear infection with inflammation, labyrinthitis can also develop. In addition, upper respiratory infections may also cause the disorder. Inflammation in your ear can affect a nerve that’s related to how you perceive motion, sound, and position.  This causes an individual with labyrinthitis to feel off-balance. This disease is also often accompanied by hearing loss, headaches, impaired vision, vertigo, and ear pain.

The specialists at Foothills Neurology can help you determine the cause of your dizziness and diagnose the issue as Vertigo or another neurological problem. We are here to help you manage your symptoms and get back to living a normal life.

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