Dizziness and vertigo are related symptoms, but they actually mean slightly different things. Dizziness refers to a sensation of unsteadiness, lightheadedness or faintness. Vertigo indicates a sensation of spinning or moving even when you, or objects around you, are not moving.
Anyone can experience dizziness or vertigo from time to time in daily life. But when the sensations become severe or frequent, they might indicate a greater problem occurring elsewhere in the body.
Causes of Dizziness and Vertigo
When someone experiences dizziness or vertigo that requires medical attention, it's usually because of a vestibular disorder of the inner ear. The organs of the inner ear make up the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and spatial awareness. When there's a problem with the vestibular system, chronic vertigo or dizziness may be the result. This damage to the inner ear can come from a variety of causes, including old age, injury, migraine headache and debris in the inner ear. Multiple sclerosis is known to cause vertigo, as can tumors and inflammation in the inner ear.
Other causes of dizziness have little to do with the inner ear. For example, heart issues like an arrhythmia, atherosclerosis or an aneurysm can produce dizziness as a symptom. Dehydration, stress, fatigue and tension can also make people prone to frequent dizziness. Certain medications cause dizziness as a side effect, and problems with the eyes as well as brain tumors can also contribute to dizziness.
Treatment of Vertigo and Dizziness
Because of the wide array of causes of dizziness and vertigo, there's also a number of treatments, which will vary according to the particular cause. Often, the first step is to treat the underlying disease that is leading to dizziness or vertigo. However, there are specific treatments for dizziness and vertigo as well, and those include medications, therapy and exercises that can help with the symptoms. In severe situations, where other treatments won’t help, surgery to correct the problems in the inner ear may be an option.
SOURCES: Vestibular Disorders Association; National Multiple Sclerosis Society