Vertigo Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Feeling dizzy or off balance? You could have a condition called vertigo. Read on to discover our complete guide on the meaning of vertigo.

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Do you ever feel like you’ve suddenly hopped on a tilt-a-whirl? Plagued by seemingly random dizzy spells? If so, you may have vertigo. 

Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on to discover all there is to know about vertigo, including what it is, the symptoms, and how it’s treated. 

What Is the Definition of Vertigo?

According to Collins English Dictionary, vertigo is a medical condition that can occur for a number of reasons. This condition leaves a person feeling as though their surroundings are whirling around them; they tend to have a loss of balance and an overall sense of dizziness.  

In other words, vertigo is a sensation that the environment around you is spinning. In this context, vertigo isn’t necessarily a condition or illness, but a symptom of varying conditions. 

Think you might have vertigo? Here are the signs to watch for:

  • Spinning sensation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Abnormal rhythmic eye movements
  • Feelings of motion sickness
  • Loss of balance
  • Inner ear infection
  • Tinnitus
  • Migraine headache

What Are Common Causes of Vertigo?

Although the cause of vertigo is unknown in many cases, there are a number of conditions that can lead to dizziness and imbalance, such as:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) — BPPV occurs when microscopic calcium deposits (AKA, canaliths) are stuck in one of the three semi-circular canals that make-up the vestibular system. As a result, certain head movements often trigger vertigo.  
  • Labyrinthitis — An ear infection, usually triggered by the flu or common cold.
  • Vestibular neuritis — Inflammation of the vestibular nerve causing prolonged vertigo. 
  • Meniere’s disease — An inner ear disorder that can lead to hearing loss and dizzy spells. 

Admittedly, less often the case than as the previously mentioned culprits, vertigo may be associated with the following:

  • Neck injury
  • Head injury
  • Brain problems (for example, a tumor or stroke)
  • Certain Medications
  • Ear damage
  • Migraine headaches

Depending on what’s at the root of your vertigo, you may experience additional symptoms, such as hearing loss and fever. 

What Are the Symptoms of Vertigo? 

Most commonly, individuals affected by vertigo feel as though they are:

  • Whirling 
  • Unbalanced
  • Pulled in one direction
  • Spinning
  • Tilting 
  • Swimming in your head

In rare cases, symptoms of vertigo may include:

  • Nystagmus (jerking or abnormal eye movements)
  • Feelings of nausea or vomiting
  • Hearing loss or ringing in the ears, often associated with headache 
  • Sweating 

How Is Vertigo Treated?

Vertigo goes away on its own more often than not. However, there are many treatments available that can help you to manage the condition. This is especially great news for people who get vertigo frequently.  

That said, some of the most common vertigo treatments include:

  • Vestibular rehabilitation — A type of physical therapy aimed at strengthening the vestibular system. 
  • Canalith repositioning procedure — A procedure that includes head maneuvers that move the canalith particles (AKA, otoconia) in the inner ear that’s responsible for the dizziness. 
  • Medication — If your dizzy spells are due to an infection or inflammation, steroids or antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce swelling and cure the infection. 
  • Surgery — In the rare event that vertigo is caused by a more serious underlying problem (like a brain injury or tumor), surgery may be required to alleviate vertigo symptoms. 

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Vertigo?

Now that you’re up to speed on the meaning of vertigo, let’s take a look at a few synonyms and antonyms. 

These synonyms are provided by Word Hippo:

  • Giddiness
  • Legs like jelly
  • Whirling sensation
  • Off-balance
  • Swimming
  • Befuddlement 
  • Bewilderment 
  • Loss of balance
  • Wobbliness 
  • Faintness 
  • Fear of heights 
  • Dysequilibrium 
  • Loss of equilibrium 
  • Weakness at the knees

These antonyms are also provided by Word Hippo:

  • Steadiness 
  • Balance
  • Bravery
  • Calm
  • Certainty
  • Firmness
  • Great strength
  • Equalization
  • Fortitude 

What Are Translations of Vertigo?

Wondering how to say the word vertigo in a different language? We’ve got you covered! Here are some of the most common translations of vertigo:

  • Chinese — 眩晕 
  • European Spanish — vértigo 
  • Finnish — huimaus 
  • Thai — อาการเวียนศีรษะบ้านหมุน
  • Turkish — yükseklik korkusu 
  • Japanese — めまい 
  • Korean — 현기증 
  • Norwegian — vertigo 
  • Polish — zawroty głowy 
  • European Portuguese — vertigem
  • Ukrainian— запаморочення
  • Vietnamese — sự chóng mặt
  • French — vertige 
  • Romanian — amețeală
  • Russian — головокружение 
  • Spanish — vértigo 
  • Swedish — höjdskräck
  • German — Schwindel
  • Croatian — strah od visine 
  • Czech — závrať 
  • Greek — ίλιγγος 
  • Italian — vertigine
  • Danish — svimmelhed 
  • Dutch — duizeligheid
  • American English — vertigo 
  • Arabic — دُوَار 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — vertigem

A Final Word

The dizzy sensation of vertigo can be extremely disruptive, to say the least. Depending on the severity of symptoms, it can be alarming, lasting anywhere between a couple of minutes to days.  

In short, vertigo is a shift in balance and vision perception. One moment everything is exactly how it should be. The next, things are spinning, the world is tilting, and your stance shifts from side-to-side to keep you from falling.

We hope this guide has provided you with enough information to fully understand the meaning of vertigo. If after reading this post you feel as though you may have the condition, be sure to make an appointment with your healthcare provider for proper treatment.  


  1. What is another word for vertigo? : Vertigo Synonyms | WordHippo Thesaurus 
  2. Vertigo definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. Vertigo: What Is It, Causes, Signs & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic