ZocdocAnswersAm I just dizzy or do I have vertigo?

Question

Am I just dizzy or do I have vertigo?

Once in a while I get dizzy all of the sudden. Seems to happen more when I?m standing for a long time. Is this vertigo or just dizziness? Are they the same thing and does it mean something is wrong with my inner ear?

Answer

The difference between dizziness and vertigo is one which is often confusing. Basically, dizziness is a more general term used to describe any sensations of spinning, trouble with balance, or faintness. Vertigo is a more specific term, referring specifically to a subtype of dizziness - the type in which one feels like one is 'moving' or the 'room is spinning' while remaining in a stationary position. The symptoms that you are describing, which seem to occur when you are standing for a long time, most likely should be described as dizziness and not vertigo. This is because the mechanism by which prolonged standing leads to symptoms is from pooling of blood in the legs, which causes a feeling of faintness but does not cause the 'room to spin.' Vertigo is more specific for problems with the inner ear. There are several conditions which can affect the balance and position sensors in the inner ear, leading to vertigo. These conditions include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere's disease, migraine, and vestibulitis. I would recommend that you talk with your primary care doctor, who will be able to help you identify the specific cause and recommend treatments.

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