Symptoms A-Z

Vertigo (Extreme Dizziness) Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your vertigo (extreme dizziness) symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.

This symptom can also be referred to as: disequilibrium, the room is spinning

An image depicting a person suffering from vertigo (extreme dizziness) symptoms

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Contents

  1. 9 Possible Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

9 Possible Vertigo (Extreme Dizziness) Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced vertigo (extreme dizziness). This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is a common cause of vertigo –dizziness whenever the position of the head is significantly changed.

BPPV may occur after a head injury, whether minor or serious; or it can be caused by inner ear damage, which affects balance.

Most susceptible are women over 50, though it can happen to anyone at any age.

Symptoms include mild to intense dizziness or spinning; loss of balance; nausea; and sometimes vomiting. Flickering, jerking eye movements called nystagmus often occur at the same time.

Though BPPV is not dangerous in itself, it can cause falls and interfere with quality of life. If the dizziness occurs with severe headache, vision changes, trouble speaking, or paralysis, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, particularly looking for nystagmus. Specialized eye tests and imaging may be done.

BPPV may eventually resolve on its own. If not, therapy to adjust the sensitivity of the inner ear may be done, and in some cases surgery is effective.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, episodic dizziness, vomiting, vertigo (extreme dizziness), dizziness

Symptoms that always occur with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: episodic dizziness

Symptoms that never occur with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: hearing loss, heartbeat sound in the ear, ringing in the ears

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Dehydration

Dehydration means the body does not have enough water to carry out its normal processes.

Most susceptible to serious dehydration are young children with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. In adults, some medications increase urination and can lead to dehydration. Anyone exercising vigorously, especially in hot weather, can quickly become dehydrated.

Symptoms include extreme thirst; dry mouth; infrequent, dark-colored urine; dizziness; and confusion. Young children may have sunken eyes, cheeks, and soft spot on top of the skull.

Severe dehydration is a serious medical emergency that can lead to heat stroke, kidney damage, seizures, coma, and death. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through blood tests and urine tests.

Mild dehydration can be treated simply by drinking extra water, or water with electrolytes such as sports drinks. More serious cases may be hospitalized for intravenous fluids.

It's important for anyone who is outside in hot weather, or who is ill, to drink extra fluids even before feeling thirsty as thirst is not always a reliable guide.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, racing heart beat, being severely ill

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Earwax blockage

Ear wax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum, which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside. Ear wax buildup has nothing to do with poor hygiene, and it is not possible to prevent a build-up by washing.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears

Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage: swollen ear, fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Possible meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It can cause severe dizziness, a roaring sound in the ears called tinnitus, hearing loss that comes and goes and the feeling of ear pressure or pain. Meniere's commonly develops between the ages of 20 and 60, and most often starts in only one ear.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, episodic dizziness, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), ear fullness/pressure

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a chronic condition that involves repeated episodes of panic attacks, as well as worry about future attacks or consequences of attacks, or unhelpful changes in behavior to avoid the attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of sudden-onset fear, discomfort, and/or other symptoms that may or may not be associated with a specific trigger.

Symptoms of panic attacks include chest pain, shortness of breath, shaking, trembling, sweating, abdominal discomfort, nausea, dizziness, heat or cold sensations, numbness or tingling, or fear of dying.

Treatment options include psychotherapy and antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: anxiety, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, stomach bloating, depressed mood

Symptoms that always occur with panic disorder: anxiety

Symptoms that never occur with panic disorder: agoraphobia

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that affects balance and hearing.

Meniere's disease is due to an abnormality in the inner ear that results in low levels of fluid, thus interfering with the sense of balance. The abnormality may be hereditary or it could be from allergies, autoimmune disease, or other illness.

Symptoms usually affect only one ear and include severe attacks of vertigo, or the sensation of spinning; tinnitus, or ringing in the ear; pressure inside the ear; and increasing deafness. These symptoms are unpredictable and can come and go without warning.

Meniere's disease is progressive and will not go away on its own. It can lead to a severe loss of hearing and balance, and so a medical provider should be seen at the earliest symptoms.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; hearing tests; and balance tests.

There is no cure for Meniere's disease, but it can be treated with motion sickness and anti-nausea medicines, hearing aids, and occasionally surgery.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), ear fullness/pressure, brief fainting episode

Symptoms that always occur with meniere's disease: dizziness: at least 2 episodes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Vasovagal syncope

Vasovagal syncope is sudden. A loss of consciousness occurs due to reduced blood flow to the brain.

Those with vasovagal syncope will also experience certain skin, vision, circulatory, and other associated symptoms. These may include(https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/nausea/), and feeling hot or overheated with no clear cause.

Vasovagal syncope is not usually harmful or indicative of a more serious condition. Treatments include rest, the implant of a pacemaker, dietary changes, avoiding triggers, and maintaining good circulation in the lower body.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lightheadedness, brief fainting episode, having fainted multiple times, fainting after standing for a long time, fainting episode after a specific trigger

Symptoms that always occur with vasovagal syncope: brief fainting episode, having fainted multiple times

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Orthostatic syncope (fainting)

Orthostatic syncope refers to a type of loss of consciousness caused by rapidly standing up from a sitting position, and not enough blood reaches the head. This can cause a person to pass out, but then come back to consciousness without lasting effects.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: lightheadedness, brief fainting episode, dizziness and lightheadedness before passing out, fainting after standing up, fainting for the first time

Symptoms that always occur with orthostatic syncope (fainting): brief fainting episode, fainting after standing up

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Hypertensive crisis

Hypertensive crisis occurs when your blood pressure becomes dangerously high (180/120 mm Hg), to a level that can damage your organs. Hypertensive crisis is categorized as "hypertensive urgency" if the blood pressure is high without damage to organs, and as "hypertensive emergency" if the blood pressure is high with damage to organs.

Symptoms for hypertensive urgency are usually not noticeable, except for high blood pressure and a mild headache. However, hypertensive emergency symptoms also include a possibly severe headache, confusion, agitation or seizures, numbness or weakness, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, chest pain, and back pain.

Treatments include methods to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, by either IV or oral medication.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: headache, nausea or vomiting, chest pain, being severely ill, dizziness

Symptoms that never occur with hypertensive crisis: chest pain that is worse when breathing

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Vertigo (Extreme Dizziness)

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you hear a ringing or whistling sound no one else hears?
  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Did you faint?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having vertigo (extreme dizziness)

Vertigo (Extreme Dizziness) Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced vertigo (extreme dizziness) have also experienced:

  • 8% Nausea
  • 6% Headache
  • 5% Fatigue

People who have experienced vertigo (extreme dizziness) were most often matched with:

  • 54% Dehydration
  • 27% Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • 18% Earwax Blockage

People who have experienced vertigo (extreme dizziness) had symptoms persist for:

  • 41% Less than a day
  • 25% Less than a week
  • 17% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Vertigo (Extreme Dizziness) Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having vertigo (extreme dizziness)