Dizziness: FAQ

Does “vertigo” mean the same thing as “dizzy?”
Vertigo is a term reserved for a sense of motion when the body is really at rest, usually a spinning sensation like that experienced after getting off of a merry-go-round.  Dizziness is a more general term used to describe other sensations like lightheadedness, giddiness or general unsteadiness.

What causes dizziness?
Dizziness can be caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain, hyperventilation, medication, anxiety, or– most commonly– inner-ear disorders.

Is dizziness the same for all people?
No.  For some people it is lightheadedness.  Some people feel faint.  some feel as if they are moving when they are not.  Others feel a spinning sensation in which either they are doing the spinning or the world around them is spinning.

I only get dizzy when I move my head quickly.  Why?
The most common form of dizziness is called benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo (BPPV), which is a spinning sensation that occurs only with certain head movements.  This type of vertigo can often be treated and eliminated in just one 20-minute session in our office using the Canalith Repositioning Procedure, or CRP( link to canalith).

Is dizziness very common?
For people over the age of 65, dizziness is one of the most frequent reasons for physician visits and hospital admissions.  Dizziness is actually the second most common complaint reported to a physician next to back pain.  According to the National Institutes of Health, 90 million Americans (42% of the population) will complain of dizziness at least once in their lifetime.

How does one determine if dizziness is due to an inner ear problem?
Dizziness is a symptom.  Proper evaluation is required to determine its cause.

Is there any treatment for dizziness?
Treatment for dizziness varies according to the diagnosis.  Depending on the underlying cause, treatment options may include medication, changes in diet, physical therapy, or even surgery in the most severe cases.  Dizziness associated with BPPV, as noted above, can often be eliminated in one 20-minute treatment session.