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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of vertigo

Tirohanga whānui ki te āmai

Man experiencing vertigoVertigo is a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. You may feel unsteady; it may be hard to walk or stand and you may lose your balance. Some people feel as though they're spinning around or falling.

Vertigo is a symptom rather than a condition itself.

Different people experience different intensities of vertigo. It may or may not persist when you're still or lying down. You may also feel sick (nauseous) and throw up (vomit).

Vertigo is often a symptom of an inner ear disorder, but it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition such as stroke, circulation problems or infection.


If you're unsure what to do call your general practice team.

Causes of vertigo

For some people, the cause of their vertigo is unknown. The most common causes of vertigo are as follows.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis

Ménière's disease


Other causes

Diagnosing vertigo

Your doctor may ask you:

Your doctor will also examine your ears, examine your eyes and check your balance. Because vertigo could be a symptom of another medical condition, your doctor may also do several different tests.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Treating vertigo

Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed August 2023.


See also:

Funny turns or fainting


Page reference: 721816

Review key: HIVER-17706