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Name of Symptom/Sign:
ICD-10 R42
ICD-9 780.4
OMIM [1]
MedlinePlus [2]
eMedicine neuro/693
DiseasesDB 17771

Dizziness describes a number of subjective symptoms, which the patient may describe as feelings of lightheadedness, floating, wooziness, giddiness, confusion, disorientation or loss of balance. Medical terms include vertigo, disequilibrium, pre-syncope or syncoptic episode. Causes may stem from a variety of failures of equilibrioception, hypotension, cerebral hypoxia or a reaction to environmental chemicals or drugs.


Main article: Vertigo (medical)

Vertigo is a specific medical term used to describe the sensation of spinning or having the room spin about you. Many people find vertigo very disturbing and often report associated nausea and vomiting.

Otologic causes of vertigo:

If the vertigo arises from the inner ear, it is severe and has associated nausea and vomiting. One common cause of otologic vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Alternate causes of vertigo originating from the inner ear include Ménière's disease, superior canal dehiscence syndrome, and labyrinthitis.

Central nervous system causes of vertigo:

If vertigo arises from the balance centers of the brain, it is milder, and has accompanying neurologic deficits, such as slurred speech, double vision or nystagmus. Alternately, brain pathology can cause a sensation of disequilibrium which is an off-balance sensation.

Often vertigo can be treated by the Epley maneuver.


Disequilibrium is the sensation of being off balance, and is most often characterized by frequent falls in a specific direction. This condition is not often associated with nausea or vomiting.


Pre-syncope, or a syncoptic episode, is lightheadedness, muscular weakness and feeling faint as opposed to a syncope, which is actually fainting. Pre-syncope does not result from primary central nervous system pathology, nor does it originate in the inner ear but is most often cardiovascular in etiology. In many patients, lightheadedness is a symptom of orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension occurs when the blood pressure drops significantly when the patient stands from a supine or seated position. If loss of consciousness occurs in this situation, it is termed syncope.

External links

  • Online Community for Sufferers of Vertigo and Dizziness

See also

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