ZocdocAnswersIs dizziness the same thing as vertigo?

Question

Is dizziness the same thing as vertigo?

Sometimes when I am standing for a long period of time (which I have to do for work) I will get dizzy and have to sit down. Is this vertigo? Is dizziness the same thing as vertigo? What can I do to make it stop?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that you are having some problem with dizziness when standing for a long period of time, requiring you to sit down. You ask a very good question about the difference with dizziness and vertigo. This is a good distinction to make in your own mind when going to a physician, because dizziness and vertigo will make your physician think of different potential diagnosis. Dizziness typically refers to a sense of lightheaded, or unsteadiness on ones feet. As you mentioned, it can happen when standing for a long period of time (like in a wedding), or it can frequently happen when standing from lying down for a long time. When standing for a long period of time, blood can pool in your legs, and your brain can get deprived of oxygen and nutrients (making you "dizzy") and since the brain is selfish, it will try to make you fall horizontal so that gravity is not longer pulling the blood into your legs and it gets more again. When you stand up fast from lying down, your body all the sudden has to start pumping the blood harder to get it to your brain, and for a few seconds it needs to equilibrate (called orthostatic hypotension). Vertigo is the sensation that the world is spinning around you when it actually isn't This has different causes altogether (like inner ear problems, etc). I would recommend making an appointment with your primary care physician first to get checked out. Best of luck.

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