Your doctor may be able to determine the cause of your
vertigo based on your symptoms and your medical
history. He or she may ask questions to clarify points and explore symptoms or
events that you may have forgotten to mention or may have thought were not
The doctor first will determine exactly what symptoms you are having.
People tend to use the word "dizzy" to describe any of the following:
Vertigo (the feeling of spinning movement even
when standing still)
Unsteadiness (a sense of imbalance or
staggering when standing or walking)
Lightheadedness or feeling as
though you are about to faint (presyncope)
Dizziness (feeling woozy
or unsteady) related to breathing too rapidly (hyperventilation), anxiety, or
To distinguish between these, the doctor may ask:
Does the room feel as though it's spinning around
Does your vision become blurred or dim during an
Do you feel as though you are seasick?
get dizzy when you stand up?
Do you feel as though you are going to
Does the dizziness feel more as though it's in your feet
or your head?
Do you get dizzy when you turn your
Are your thoughts clear?
Are you worried or
If it is clear you have vertigo, the doctor will want to know whether
you have any hearing problems, such as hearing loss or ringing in your ears
(tinnitus), that occur along with the vertigo.
Next, the doctor will want to know about the pattern of your vertigo.
He or she may ask:
Is the vertigo continuous or does it come and go?
If it comes and goes, how long does it usually last?
Is the vertigo
triggered by changing your position, such as rolling over in bed or bending
over? How quickly after changing your position does the vertigo
Does the vertigo occur only when your head is in a certain
position, such as tipped back to look up?
Does the vertigo ever
occur when you are completely still and motionless?
Your doctor also will want to know how bad the vertigo is:
Is it severe, to the point of causing nausea and
Is it mild?
Your doctor also will want to decide whether the vertigo could be
caused by a problem affecting the brain or nerves. He or she may ask:
Does the vertigo occur when you are not
Have you ever had a major head injury?
have double vision or other vision problems?
Do you have difficulty
Do you have difficulty moving any part of your
Do you have any weakness or numbness in any part of your
Did you first experience vertigo suddenly, or did it come on
Have there been any changes in the frequency or intensity
In addition to specific questions relating to your reason for seeing
the doctor, taking a history includes determining your general health. The
doctor may ask:
Is this the first time you have seen a doctor
about this problem?
Are you taking any prescription or
Have you had any recent cold or flu
Do you have any family history of vertigo
The answers you give will usually provide the doctor with enough
information to determine the cause of your vertigo. If the cause is not clear,
the doctor may want to do some tests.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.