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What is the Difference Between Dizziness and Vertigo?

Dizziness is very often the general term patients use when describing their symptoms. It can be very difficult for someone experiencing dizziness to put into words exactly what they’re feeling/experiencing but the starting point is usually ‘I feel dizzy’ or a ‘I have dizziness’. When we dig a little deeper, the patient may explain that the dizziness they’re experiencing is more of a spinning type of dizziness or may indicate with their hand that they’re spinning by making circular motions. It’s this type of spinning feeling that, if it affects balance, we would clinically class as vertigo.

There is also a very common misconception that vertigo is associated with a fear of heights but this isn’t true.

An attack of vertigo and this spinning type of dizziness can last from a few seconds to a few hours. In some severe cases, the attack can last days, weeks and even months.

When to get help

If you have persistent vertigo you should see a GP who may refer you to an expert.

If you have symptoms of vertigo and a bad headache, sickness or a high temperature, you should see your GP immediately.