When people describe the sensation of dizziness they often mean different things. Vertigo
is defined as a feeling of motion when stationary, usually a sense of the room spinning, as opposed to feeling lightheaded or about to pass out. The most common cause of vertigo triggered by movement of the neck or head is a condition known as BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. They symptoms include vertigo, a sense of imbalance, and often nausea. The symptoms are brought about by a change in head position, most typically by tipping the head back to look up as you described. It is thought to be due to otoliths, or a type of little stone in your inner ear, which have been displaced or damaged. Other causes of dizziness when tilting your head back in older patients would include arthritis
in your spine. It is important to see your primary car doctor
to discuss your symptoms in more detail. Your doctor will be able to discuss the appropriate follow up tests (if needed) and treatment depending on your age, your past medical history, correlating symptoms, and your physical exam. If it turns out to be benign paroxysmal positional vertigo then there are a series of head motions that you can do to try to dislodge the stones in your ear as well as anti-vertigo medications which are sometimes helpful.