- Acoustic neuroma
- Age-related dizziness and imbalance
- Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED)
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Bilateral Vestibulopathy
- CANVAS Syndrome
- Cervicogenic dizziness
- Childhood dizziness and imbalance
- Enlarged vestibular aqueduct
- Labyrinthine infarction
- Mal de débarquement syndrome (MdDS)
- Ménière’s disease
- Migraine and dizziness
- Motion and cyber sickness
- Perilymph fistula
- Persisitent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD)
- Ramsay Hunt syndrome
- Secondary endolymphatic hydrops
- Semicircular canal dehiscence
- Vestibular neuritis
- Vestibular paroxysmia
- Vestibular toxicity
- Visually induced dizziness
This information is intended as a general introduction to vestibular disorders. As each person is affected differently by balance and dizziness problems, speak with your health care professional for individual advice.
“Vestibular disorder” is an umbrella term used for over 25 conditions. Vestibular (vess-TIB-youl-er) disorders affect the balance organs in the inner ear (vestibular system) and parts of the central nervous system (brain) that communicate back and forth to help maintain balance. Vestibular disorders happen when disease, injury or aging damage any part of this delicate and complex process.
Most dizziness and imbalance is related to other conditions rather than the vestibular system. Some of these other conditions result in imbalance without dizziness. And people commonly have more than one condition at the same time.
Vestibular disorders include:
Age-related dizziness and imbalance
This is one of the most common problems of older people. It has many causes that often overlap.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
The key symptom of this common condition is repeated, brief spells of vertigo (spinning sensation) brought on by a change in head position.
Bilateral vestibulopathy (BVP)
Damage to the balance parts of both inner ears is referred to as BVP. It causes imbalance, unsteady gait and "jumpy vision" with head movement.
Cerebellar ataxia with neuropathy and vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS) is a rare neurological disorder that affects balance.
This condition is related to a neck problem. Common symptoms include episodes of dizziness, lightheadedness and unsteadiness.
Childhood dizziness and imbalance
Balance and dizziness disorders are quite common in children. Most problems are short-lived and easy to treat. Longer-lasting disorders are often accompanied by developmental delays.
A rare, slow-growing benign mass in the middle ear. As it grows, a cholesteatoma can destroy parts of the inner ear needed for hearing and balance.
All concussions are traumatic brain injuries. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating.
This is a type of small stroke. Warning signs are sudden hearing loss, dizziness and/or loss of balance. It may signal an impending larger stroke.
Mal de débarquement syndrome (MdDS)
MdDs is usually triggered by a long trip at sea. The main symptoms are constant feelings of movement lasting for weeks, months or even years.
The hallmark symptom of this chronic, progressive disorder is sudden attacks of vertigo (spinning sensation), usually lasting several hours.
Migraine and Dizziness
Dizziness is a symptom of two types of migraine. Lifestyle changes and medication may help prevent or lessen their occurrence.
Motion and cyber sickness
Being in a moving vehicle can bring on nausea or discomfort. Viewing moving digital content on devices can result in similar symptoms.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome (RHS)
RHS is a shingles outbreak affecting a facial nerve near one ear. This rare disorder usually affects older people. It sometimes causes vertigo.
Semicircular canal dehiscence (SCD)
SCD is a rare condition. It can cause both hearing and balance symptoms. People with SCD often hear sounds from inside their own bodies.
Vestibular neuritis causes a single sudden, severe attack of dizziness, usually with nausea and vomiting. Hearing loss is not a symptom.
Vestibular paroxysmia causes short, recurring attacks of vertigo (spinning sensation). This chronic disorder is uncommon.
Vestibular toxicity refers to temporary or permanent damage to the balance system from some drugs and chemicals. Fortunately, it is rare.
Visually induced dizziness
This is a common group of symptoms caused by a problem with the balance system. Visually induced dizziness is brought on by looking at complex patterns or movement.
The following can offer more help and support for affected individuals and their families.
Note: Websites that deal with a specific disorder can be found on the page about that disorder.
Information about dizziness and balance problems caused by inner ear disorders, neurological disorders and other conditions. Maintained by Dr. Timothy C. Hain, Chicago Dizziness and Hearing.
Dizziness and Equilibrium
Clear explanations and diagrams to help in understanding vestibular and balance disorders, diagnostic tests, and vestibular rehabilitation. Includes a glossary of common vestibular terms. Part of the American Institute of Balance (AIB) website.
Medical News Today
Provides news from evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies, along with accurate, unbiased and informative content from governments, medical societies, royal colleges, professional associations, patients' groups, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies, among others. Browse or search “Ear Nose and Throat” category for information about the inner ear and vestibular disorders.
Consumer health information from the US National Library of Medicine. Includes current health news, general health information by disease or body system, a medical encyclopaedia and dictionary, anatomical diagrams and videos of surgical procedures.
Explains disorders, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, treatment and prognosis in everyday language.
Merck Medical Myths: Vertigo
Dr. David Kaylie, an otologist with the Duke University Health System, talks about the differences between dizziness and vertigo, hearing loss and dizziness, treatments that can help, and the myths associated with vertigo in this 25-minute podcast. Available on Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.
Vestibular Disorders Association
Commonly known as VEDA, the Vestibular Disorders Association's mandate is to help people find balance.
Most of the titles listed are available for loan through public libraries - if your local library doesn’t own a copy of a title that interests you, ask for it to be sent from another library through interlibrary loan.
Note: Books about a specific disorder can be found on the page about that disorder.
Follow award-winning science and health writer Carol Svec through various facilities as she talks with leading scientists doing state-of-the-art balance research. Svec translates their most fascinating findings for the layperson in a way that is highly entertaining and accessible. Along the way she cites case studies of people whose lives are affected by balance dysfunction, explains how research is being applied to help them, and provides a glimpse at what potentially life-changing advances may be on the horizon.
A scientific, historical and practical exploration of how balance works. From simple motion sickness to astronauts’ “space stupids” and from fetal somersaults to the Flying Wallendas, McCredie explores the physiology of equilibrium.
An ear surgeon with 30 years of experience distills his knowledge about vestibular disorders in this simple, 84-page guide written for the general public.
This short and practical guide explores different conditions that can cause dizziness, describes common types of dizziness and explains what people with dizziness can do to feel better. The authors are renowned doctors – the credibility of the information is unparalleled. An essential read for every dizzy person!
Page updated January 2021.
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