Dizziness definition

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor-In-Chief: M.Umer Tariq [2]

Overview

Dizziness is a vague term that describes a symptom which can be confused with vertigo, disequilibrium and presyncope.

Definition

Vertigo

The word vertigo comes from the Latin "vertere", to turn + the suffix "-igo", a condition = a condition of turning about. Vertigo is a specific medical term used to describe the sensation of spinning or having the room spin about you. Most people find vertigo very disturbing and often report associated nausea and vomiting.

Disequilibrium

Disequilibrium is the sensation of being off balance, and is most often characterized by frequent falls in a specific direction. This condition is not often associated with nausea or vomiting.

Pre-Syncope

Pre-syncope is most often described as lightheaded or feeling faint. Syncope, by contrast, is actually fainting. Pre-syncope, or lightheadedness, does not result from primary central nervous system pathology. Nor does it originate in the inner ear. It is most often cardiovascular in etiology. In many patients, lightheadedness is a symptom of orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension occurs when the blood pressure drops significantly when the patient stands from a supine or seated position. If loss of consciousness occurs in this situation, it is termed syncope.

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