What Is the Difference Between Dizziness and Vertigo

by | May 7, 2021 | Balance/Dizziness

The terms dizziness and vertigo are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between these two conditions. Let the leading audiological providers at Colorado Ear Care help you understand the differences, and how you can get the help you need. 

Have you ever stood up too quickly and felt lightheaded, so much so that you might even briefly lose your sense of balance and stagger a bit? How about experiencing a sensation of the world whirling around you despite your being stationary? 

The former could probably be described as dizziness, while the latter sounds a bit like vertigo. Similar? Yes. Different? Absolutely!

Aren’t dizziness and vertigo the same thing?

If you’ve thought that dizziness and vertigo are the same condition, don’t fret. You’re not alone. Though there are similarities between dizziness and vertigo, they are, in fact, quite different. 

In the simplest of terms, dizziness refers to a much broader set of sensations than vertigo. Dizziness can include a loss of balance, lightheadedness, and even feeling faint. Dizziness is one of the most common concerns of older adults in the United States, due to fear of fall-related injuries. 

Vertigo, on the other hand, can typically be described as a false sense of the world around you spinning or moving as you remain stationary. It can also carry with it feelings of nausea, difficulty with mobility, loss of balance, even vomiting. And it’s a more common occurrence than you might realize. 

According to the University of California San Francisco, “Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults experience vertigo at least once in their lifetime, with women slightly more likely to get it than men.”

To put an even finer point on it, you could categorize vertigo as a type of dizziness where its sensations appear to alter your perception of the world around you (spinning, spatial disorientation, etc.) 

What causes dizziness and vertigo?

Generally speaking, symptoms related to dizziness and vertigo can be associated with conditions in the inner ear, circulatory issues, side effects of certain medications, low blood sugar, neurological conditions, and more. 

The most common reasons a person is experiencing vertigo are:

Migraine headaches — research suggests that migraine sufferers may even feel the effects of vertigo even when not experiencing a migraine headache

Viral infections — this is an occurrence where the vestibular nerve becomes infected, causing severe feelings of vertigo 

Meniere’s disease — this disease is one where a buildup of fluid in the inner ear can can intermittent hearing loss, tinnitus, and intense feelings of vertigo that can last, at times, up to several hours

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) — BPPV is the most common type of vertigo experienced by people, where one feels the world around them is spinning while they are, in fact, stationary. Simple movements, like sitting up or turning over in bed, turning the head quickly, or head trauma, can trigger feelings of vertigo.

The causes of dizziness are much broader, and can be associated with many different things, including poor blood circulation, drops in blood pressure, anxiety and neurological conditions, and carbon monoxide poisoning can cause feelings of dizziness. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms associated with dizziness or vertigo, we recommend you see a specialist who can help you understand your symptoms and your options for treatment. 

How are dizziness and vertigo treated?

The first and most important thing you can do is to see a professional if you’re experiencing symptoms that can be associated with dizziness or vertigo. Describing your experience will help us determine the most appropriate tests for your condition. 


Often, but not always, dizziness will go away on its own. More common instances of dizziness could potentially be associated with equilibrium disorders, which require testing to properly diagnose and effectively treat. Your diagnosis could point to things like vestibular migraines, vestibular neuritis, Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, or other middle or inner ear conditions, all of which must be treated differently in order to achieve optimal outcomes for your health. 

In the instance that dizziness persists, feels different than a “normal” bout of dizziness, or is coupled with feelings of numbness, tingling, slurred speech, or changes in vision, we recommend you contacting medical intervention immediately. 


If it is determined that you are experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, don’t fret. Despite how severe your symptoms might feel, we can treat your BPPV without surgical intervention or even the need for medicine. 

Colorado Ear Care specializes in a treatment technique called Canalith Repositioning. Canalith Repositioning is a physical maneuvering technique that has effectively given people relief from BPPV for over a quarter of a century. In just a few treatments, patients report having successful outcomes. 

Treatment isn’t always permanent. BPPV can come back, especially for those people who are diabetic, have cardiovascular issues, or are vitamin D deficient. 

Experiencing symptoms associated with dizziness or vertigo?
Contact Colorado Ear Care today!

At Colorado Ear Care, we use the very same equipment that Johns Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic use to diagnose and treat balance disorders — the most sophisticated in the state!

You don’t have to suffer with your dizziness and vertigo symptoms, you can finally find relief. Our dizziness and balance experts are here to discuss your experiences, diagnose your condition, and create a tailored treatment program designed to reconnect you with the life you want to live. Don’t delay — call Colorado Ear Care today!

Talk with one of our friendly hearing and balance professionals today.