What’s the Difference Between Vertigo and Dizziness?

A lot of the times, dizziness and vertigo are used interchangeably. In actuality, these terms describe two different types of sensations as well as causes. So how can you tell the difference between vertigo and dizziness?

What is Dizziness?

Dizziness describes a feeling of being off-balance. When you’re dizzy, moving can be difficult. You may stagger while you’re walking or feel like you’re going to fall. It is usually used as an umbrella term for different types of sensations. Types of dizziness include:

  • Light-headedness/Faintness- feeling that you are about to pass out or faint. Though it may feel like dizziness, you don’t feel as though you or your surroundings are moving. You may also feel sweaty, have blurred vision, a racing heart and begin feeling weak.
  • Unsteadiness- Loss of the person’s equilibrium regarding their environment with a feeling of almost falling, or the result of bumping into things.

difference between dizziness and vertigo

What Can Cause Dizziness?

Dizziness is not a disease in itself, but is a common symptom of varying conditions, and can also be caused by certain actions or lifestyles. Dizziness is often triggered by:

  • Getting up too quickly from a prone position: When this happens, the blood in your body may be unable to reach your brain quickly enough because your heart cannot pump it fast enough.
  • Standing for long periods of time: Anything that causes you to stand for long periods, blood can pool in the legs, depriving the brain of proper levels of nutrients and oxygen and causing the sensation of light-headedness and dizziness.
  • A drop in your blood pressure- Though a lower blood pressure is often desirable, abnormally low blood pressure can lead to bouts of dizziness and fainting, and in some cases can be life-threatening.
  • Concussions
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration and overheating

What is Vertigo?

Continuing with the difference between vertigo and dizziness, vertigo on the other hand refers to a spinning sensation or loss of balance. People with vertigo typically describe the situation as feeling like the world is swaying, spinning, or tilting around them. Like dizziness, vertigo also impacts balance. Some examples of vertigo sensation triggers are:

  • Tilting your head back, then moving back to a natural position and feeling like the room is spinning
  • Rolling over in bed and feeling as if everything is still moving after you have stopped.

What Can Cause Vertigo?

Vertigo is most often caused by conditions that affect your vestibular system, which is in the inner ear, it can also be caused by conditions that impact your central nervous system, including the brain and spine. Common causes of vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): BPPV is usually triggered by change in your head’s position.
  • Meniere’s disease: This condition causes fluids to build up inside the ear, leading to vertigo attacks and can also be accompanied by tinnitus.
  • Vestibular neuritis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which can cause vertigo.
  • TMJ or Jaw Issues -Otherwise known as temporomandibular joint disorder, it affects one or both of your jaw joints. It can cause inflammation, which can then reach your inner ears. The inner ear is where the sensors are that tell your brain about your body’s positioning and movement, and inflammation disrupts those brain signals and can lead to vertigo.
  • Spine Position- Often overlooked, this covers a significant amount of vertigo cases, our spines are designed to have a normal position and if we end up shifting out of place for whatever reason, then it cuts off how the brain stem works and the balance center.
  • TBI, eyestrain, or binocular vision disorder- Any issues which disrupt the eyes’ ability to focus correctly can lead to eye muscle strain, which can lead to vertigo symptoms

There are several other reasons you could be experiencing vertigo. The only way to truly pinpoint the cause is to see a doctor.

How to avoid Dizziness and Vertigo Issues

One of the best things you can do for your balance system is to just take care of yourself. Eating the right foods, staying active and limiting stress can all benefit your overall health.  I’ve also discussed at greater length how to avoid vertigo episodes. Making regular appointments with your healthcare provider is also important. Additionally, having your jaw and teeth checked, as well as your cervical spine by a corrective chiropractor can also be beneficial.


Whether it’s vertigo or dizziness you’re suffering from, working with a corrective chiropractor can give you the help you need to get you to full recovery. If you have vertigo and have never reached out to a chiropractor for help, we highly recommend you do so before considering drugs or surgery. If you or someone you know is experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or is looking for how to treat their ailments naturally, send this to them so they can check out some of the other tips that we have here, and they can start to take action on changing their lives.

At Align Wellness Center, we’ve treated many patients with vertigo. One of the questions we get asked often is, what is the difference between vertigo and dizziness? Whatever your symptoms are, our team is dedicated to finding the root of the problem and giving you the tools to help you get back to having an amazing life.

If you’d like tips on how you can stay healthy and well without drugs and surgery, go ahead and check out other articles on this site. If you continue to struggle with vertigo and dizziness, give us a call at Align Wellness Center (847) 860-6599 or schedule an appointment online.

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