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Vertigo in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Vertigo (medical)". (Source - Retrieved 2006-09-07 14:26:25 from


Vertigo, sometimes called a headrush, is a major symptom of a balance disorder. It is the sensation of spinning while the body is stationary with respect to the earth or surroundings. With the eyes shut, there will be a sensation that the body is in movement, called subjective vertigo; if the eyes are open, the surroundings will appear to move past the field of vision, called objective vertigo.

The effects may be slight. It may cause nausea or, if severe, may give rise to difficulty with standing and walking. Vertigo is usually associated with a problem in the inner ear balance mechanisms (vestibular system), in the brain, or with the nerve connections between these two organs. The most common cause is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. Vertigo can be a symptom of an underlying harmless cause, such as in BPPV or it can suggest more serious problems. These include drug toxicities, strokes or tumors (though these are much less common than BPPV).

Vertigo is typically classified into one of two categories depending on the location of the damaged vestibular pathway. These are peripheral or central vertigo. Each category has a distinct set of characteristics and associated findings.

  • Peripheral vertigo: The lesions, or the damaged areas, affect the inner ear or the vestibular division of the acoustic (CN VIII) nerve. Vertigo that is peripheral in origin tends to be felt as more severe than central vertigo, intermittent in timing, always associated with nystagmus in the horizontal plane and occasionally hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing of the ears).
  • Peripheral vertigo can be caused by BPPV, Ménière's disease or acute vestibular neuronitis. Peripheral vertigo, compared to the central type, though subjectively felt as more severe, is usually from a less serious cause.
  • Central vertigo: The lesions in central vertigo involve the brainstem vestibular nerve nuclei. Central vertigo is typically described as constant in timing, less severe in nature and occasionally with nystagmus that can be multi-directional. Associated symptoms include motor or sensory deficits, dysarthria (slurred speech) or ataxia.

  • Vertigo should not be confused with dizziness. Dizziness is an unpleasant feeling of light-headedness, giddiness or fuzziness often accompanied by nausea.
  • Vertigo is often incorrectly used to describe a fear of heights.
  • Vertigo is often experienced when breathing helium, as a result of decreased oxygen flow to the brain.
  • Klinefelter's Syndrome people with this condition - have enhanced spatial thinking capabilities, so might be more susceptable to vertigo - research is ongoing. (for more information see reference to in links below).
For causes, symptoms, and treatment, see balance disorder.

Famous people with vertigo

It has been suggested that this section be merged into balance disorder. (Discuss)
  • Nicolas Cage, Actor
  • George Clinton, Music Artist
  • Philip K. Dick, Author: pieter
  • David Duval, Professional golfer
  • LeBron James, Basketball Player
  • Richard Lugar, U.S. Senator
  • Alain Robert, rock and urban climber
  • Alan Shepard, Mercury and Apollo Astronaut
  • Abraham Zapruder, recorded John F. Kennedy assassination
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Football Player


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