Vertigo, the sensation of one's surroundings spinning around them, is a common symptom of dizziness.
SpecialtyENT surgery, Otorhinolaryngology; if the dizziness is confirmed to be a symptom of a nervous system disorder, then neurology
Symptoms Feeling of things are spinning or moving when they are not, lightheadedness, giddiness, or unsteadiness

Dizziness is an imprecise term that can refer to a sense of disorientation in space, vertigo, or lightheadedness.[1] It can also refer to disequilibrium[2] or a non-specific feeling, such as giddiness or foolishness.[3]

Dizziness is a common medical complaint, affecting 20–30% of persons.[4] Dizziness is broken down into four main subtypes: vertigo (~25–50%), disequilibrium (less than ~15%), presyncope (less than ~15%), and nonspecific dizziness (~10%).[5]

Mechanism and causes

Many conditions cause dizziness because multiple parts of the body are required for maintaining balance including the inner ear, eyes, muscles, skeleton, and the nervous system.[7] Thus dizziness can be caused by a variety of problems and may reflect a focal process (such as one affecting balance or coordination) or a diffuse one (such as a toxic exposure or low perfusion state).[8]

Common causes of dizziness include:


Differential diagnosis

Dizziness may occur from an abnormality involving the brain (in particular the brainstem or cerebellum), inner ear, eyes, heart, vascular system, fluid or blood volume, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, or body electrolytes. Dizziness can accompany certain serious events, such as a concussion or brain bleed, epilepsy and seizures (convulsions), stroke, and cases of meningitis and encephalitis. However, the most common subcategories can be broken down as follows: 40% peripheral vestibular dysfunction, 10% central nervous system lesion, 15% psychiatric disorder, 25% presyncope/disequilibrium, and 10% nonspecific dizziness.[14] Some vestibular pathologies have symptoms that are comorbid with mental disorders.[15]

While traditional medical teaching has focused on determining the cause of dizziness based on the category (such as vertigo vs. presyncope), research published in 2017 suggests that this analysis is of limited clinical utility.[16][17]

Medical conditions that often have dizziness as a symptom include:[14][18][7][19]


About 20–30% of the population report to have experienced dizziness at some point in 2008.[6]


This section is about the loss of sense of balance. For other uses, see Disequilibrium.

In medicine, disequilibrium refers to impaired equilibrioception that can be characterised as a sensation of impending fall or of the need to obtain external assistance for proper locomotion. It is sometimes described as a feeling of improper tilt of the floor, or as a sense of floating. This sensation can originate in the inner ear or other motion sensors, or in the central nervous system. Neurologic disorders tend to cause constant vertigo or disequilibrium and usually have other symptoms of neurologic dysfunction associated with the vertigo. Many medications used to treat seizures, depression, anxiety, and pain affect the vestibular system and the central nervous system which can cause the symptom of disequilibrium.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Dizziness at the U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  2. ^ Reeves AG, Swenson RS (2008). "Chapter 14: Evaluation of the Dizzy Patient". Disorders of the Nervous System: A Primer. Dartmouth Medical School. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  3. ^ a b Branch Jr WT, Barton JJ (February 10, 2011). "Approach to the patient with dizziness". UpToDate.
  4. ^ Karatas M (November 2008). "Central vertigo and dizziness: epidemiology, differential diagnosis, and common causes". The Neurologist. 14 (6): 355–64. doi:10.1097/NRL.0b013e31817533a3. PMID 19008741. S2CID 21444226.
  5. ^ Post RE, Dickerson LM (August 2010). "Dizziness: a diagnostic approach". American Family Physician. 82 (4): 361–8, 369. PMID 20704166.
  6. ^ a b c Neuhauser HK, Lempert T (November 2009). "Vertigo: epidemiologic aspects" (PDF). Seminars in Neurology. 29 (5): 473–81. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1241043. PMID 19834858.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Dizziness and Vertigo". Merck Manual. 2009. Archived from the original on 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  8. ^ a b Norris C (4 July 2020). "What Causes Dizziness? Its Symptoms, Control and Risk Factors". Healthroid.
  9. ^ a b "10 Surprising Facts About Dizziness and Vertigo". EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved 2021-11-14.
  10. ^ Chu EC, Chin WL, Bhaumik A (November 2019). "Cervicogenic dizziness". Oxford Medical Case Reports. 2019 (11): 476–478. doi:10.1093/omcr/omz115. PMC 6902624. PMID 31844531.
  11. ^ Chu, ECP (2021). "Cervicogenic Dizziness Associated With Craniocervical Instability: A Case Report". Journal of Medical Cases. 12 (11): 451–454. doi:10.14740/jmc3792. PMC 8577610. PMID 34804305.
  12. ^ Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Drug Safety and Availability – FDA Drug Safety Communication: Low magnesium levels can be associated with long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs (PPIs)". www.fda.gov. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Common Side Effects of Coumadin (Warfarin Sodium) Drug Center – RxList". rxlist.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b Chan Y (June 2009). "Differential diagnosis of dizziness". Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery. 17 (3): 200–3. doi:10.1097/MOO.0b013e32832b2594. PMID 19365263. S2CID 9923013.
  15. ^ Lawson BD, Rupert AH, Kelley AM (2013). "Mental Disorders Comorbid with Vestibular Pathology". Psychiatric Annals. 43 (7): 324.
  16. ^ Muncie HL, Sirmans SM, James E (February 2017). "Dizziness: Approach to Evaluation and Management". American Family Physician. 95 (3): 154–162. PMID 28145669.
  17. ^ Kerber KA, Newman-Toker DE (August 2015). "Misdiagnosing Dizzy Patients: Common Pitfalls in Clinical Practice". Neurologic Clinics. 33 (3): 565–75, viii. doi:10.1016/j.ncl.2015.04.009. PMC 9023124. PMID 26231272.
  18. ^ Tusa RJ (March 2009). "Dizziness". The Medical Clinics of North America. 93 (2): 263–71, vii. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2008.09.005. PMID 19272508.
  19. ^ Bronstein AM, Lempert T (2010). "Management of the patient with chronic dizziness". Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 28 (1): 83–90. doi:10.3233/RNN-2010-0530. PMID 20086285.
  20. ^ O'Connor RE, Brady W, Brooks SC, Diercks D, Egan J, Ghaemmaghami C, et al. (November 2010). "Part 10: acute coronary syndromes: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care". Circulation. 122 (18 Suppl 3): S787-817. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.971028. PMID 20956226.
  21. ^ Konrad HR (1990). "Chapter 123: Vertigo and Associated Symptoms". In Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JA (eds.). Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations (3rd ed.). Boston: Butterworths. ISBN 0-409-90077-X. PMID 21250072.