Dizziness, Vertigo, and Imbalance – What’s the Difference?

Dizziness and balance problems are very common complaints reported at primary care physicians’ offices and emergency departments. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, on average 15% of American adults (an estimated 33 million people) report dizziness or balance problems annually. There are many ways these symptoms can be described. Below are three of the most common descriptors for these problems.

Vertigo is a term used to describe a sense of spinning or motion. Some people report that it feels like the room is spinning around them, while others feel like they themselves are moving, even when they aren’t. Vertigo is a symptom, not a disease itself. Vertigo may be caused by many different factors, including inner ear problems.

Imbalance refers to a feeling of unsteadiness on your feet. Some people report they may sway or veer to one side when walking or standing. This can lead to an increased risk of falling, which can result in serious injuries.

Dizziness is a general term used to describe a range of symptoms. This may include vertigo or imbalance as described above.  It may also include symptoms such as lightheadedness or feeling faint, wooziness, motion intolerance, or other descriptions. When in doubt, dizziness is a catch-all term that many healthcare providers use before a specific disorder or impairment is diagnosed.

Although these symptoms can be very concerning, the good news is diagnosis and treatment options are available. If you are experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance, contact our office at 904-399-0350 to schedule an evaluation.

It is recommended you seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience severe dizziness or vertigo along with symptoms such as severe headache, chest pain, difficulty breathing, numbness in the arms or legs, confusion or slurred speech.