Vertigo

Vertigo gets better in most cases without treatment. See a GP if it keeps coming back or is affecting your daily life.

Check if it’s vertigo

Vertigo feels like you or everything around you is spinning - enough to affect your balance. It's more than just feeling dizzy.

A vertigo attack can last from a few seconds to hours. If you have severe vertigo it can last for many days or months.

Help with vertigo

There are things you can do to ease vertigo symptoms when they're happening, and to reduce the number of episodes you have.

Do

  • lie still in a quiet, dark room to reduce the spinning feeling
  • move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities
  • sit down straightaway when you feel dizzy
  • turn on the lights if you get up at night
  • use a walking stick if you’re at risk of falling
  • sleep with your head slightly raised on 2 or more pillows
  • get out of bed slowly and sit on the edge of the bed for a while before standing up
  • try to relax - anxiety can make vertigo worse

Don't

  • bend over to pick things up - squat to lower yourself instead
  • stretch your neck – for example, while reaching up to a high shelf

See a GP if you:

  • have vertigo that won’t go away or keeps coming back

Ask for an urgent appointment if you:

  • also have a severe headache
  • are vomiting or feel very sick
  • have a very high temperature or you feel hot and shivery

What happens at your appointment

Your GP will ask about your symptoms to try and find out what type of vertigo you have.

A simple test that involves you moving quickly from a sitting to a lying position might be done to check your balance. This could bring on symptoms.

You might also be referred to a specialist for further tests.

Go to A&E if you have vertigo and:

  • double vision or loss of vision
  • hearing loss
  • trouble speaking
  • leg or arm weakness, numbness or tingling

Always take someone who has lost consciousness to A&E or call 999.

Treatment for vertigo

Most cases of vertigo get better without treatment.

Treatment will depend on the cause. Your GP might prescribe antibiotics if it’s caused by an infection.

You could also be given special exercises to do to try and correct your balance.

Antihistamines can sometimes help with vertigo symptoms.

If you drive you must tell the DVLA about your vertigo. Visit the GOV.UK website for more information on driving with vertigo

What causes vertigo

Inner ear problems, which affect balance, are the most common causes:

Other things that can cause vertigo:

  • migraine
  • some types of medicine - check the leaflet to see if it’s listed as a side effect

Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.

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