vertigo or dizziness

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

You may think vertigo and dizziness mean the same thing. They don’t. Although often confused for the same thing, they actually have several key factors that distinguish them apart. Knowing the difference can help us and you address its issues better. Read on to learn how to tell the difference and choose the correct type of care.

What Does It Mean to Be Lightheaded?

An individual often feels lightheaded because of a sudden drop in blood pressure or blood flow to the head. This may sound scary, but it often happens in humans. Occasionally feeling lightheaded shouldn’t cause concern, especially when you get up quickly. To avoid this, try getting up slowly. Getting up slower helps to prevent the occasional lightheadedness caused by standing.

On the other hand, constant lightheadedness should cause concern and needs addressing immediately. If an individual experiences constant lightheadedness, they should contact a medical professional. Ongoing lightheadedness may develop from underlying conditions. Hyperventilation, dehydration, anxiety, drugs, colds, allergies, alcohol, and the flu can all cause an individual lightheadedness. Certain medications may also cause lightheadedness as a side effect. Do not discontinue any medications that you believe cause lightheadedness without consulting with your doctor first. Laying down may temporarily help when feeling lightheaded.

What is Dizziness?

Dizziness is considered a general term. The word dizzy could be describing a variety of specific symptoms when people 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 acts as a type of dizziness. A dizzy person may have vertigo, but not every person who gets dizzy has vertigo. Vertigo affects how an individual perceives motion. When stationary, individuals with vertigo may continue to feel like in motion. That, or that the environment around them sways in motion. 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 usually surfaces from underlying conditions. 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.


Labyrinthitis may also develop if you have inner ear inflammation. 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.

Foothills Neurology