Vertigo is a sensation of motion or spinning that is often described as dizziness.
Vertigo is not the same as light-headedness. People with vertigo feel as though they are actually spinning or moving, or that the world is spinning around them.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
There are two types of vertigo:
- Peripheral vertigo occurs if there is a problem with the part of the inner ear that controls balance (vestibular labyrinth or semicircular canals) or with the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brainstem.
- Central vertigo occurs if there is a problem in the brain, particularly in the brainstem or the back part of the brain (cerebellum).
Vertigo related to the inner ear may be caused by:
- Benign positional vertigo (also called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)
- Drugs called aminoglycoside antibiotics
- Injury (such as head injury)
- Ménière’s disease
Vertigo related to the vestibular nerve may be caused by:
- Inflammation (neuronitis)
- Nerve compression (usually a noncancerous tumor such as a meningioma or schwannoma)
Vertigo related to the brainstem may be caused by:
- Blood vessel disease
- Drugs (anticonvulsants, aspirin, alcohol)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Seizures (rarely)
Pictures & ImagesTympanic membrane
The tympanic membrane is also called the eardrum. It separates the outer ear from the middle ear. When soundwaves reach the tympanic membrane they cause it to vibrate. The vibrations are then transferred to the tiny bones in the middle ear. The middle ear bones then transfer the vibrating signals to the inner ear. The tympanic membrane is made up of a thin connective tissue membrane covered by skin on the outside and mucosa on the internal surface.
Review Date : 10/30/2008
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.