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Vertigo Symptoms & Diagnosis


Most cases of vertigo occur with nystagmus , an abnormal, rhythmic, jerking eye movement. Other symptoms depend on the condition causing the vertigo.


Symptoms may last only a few seconds, but may come and go for weeks or even years.

  • Sudden, short (15-30 seconds), intense bursts of dizziness when you move your head a certain way, roll over in bed, or tip your head back to look up. Symptoms do not occur when the head is held still.
  • Feeling like the room is spinning
  • Light-headedness
  • Imbalance
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lingering fatigue

Viral Labyrinthitis (Vestibular Neuritis)

Sudden, intense vertigo lasting for several days to one week and often occurring with nausea and vomiting.

Meniere's Disease

Sudden vertigo attacks lasting between minutes and hours and typically occurring with prominent hearing loss and tinnitus.

Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency

  • True vertigo
  • Visual disturbances
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Disorientation
  • Incoordination


The doctor will ask about your symptoms, medication intake, and medical history, and perform a physical exam. In addition, the following tests may be performed:

  • Vestibular maneuvers
  • Auditory tests
  • Blood pressure test, both lying down and standing up
  • Electronystagmogram (ENG)—to check for nystagmus
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) —to look for problems in the brain, such as a stroke or brain tumor
  • Rotatory chair test in certain situations (for difficult cases)
  • Auditory evoked potential studies—to check for nerve conduction in the brain auditory nerve and brain stem (severe or persistent cases)

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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