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What are the Common Causes or Triggers for Vertigo Attacks?

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or moving of the environment of substances around you. Most of the times, vertigo is barely noticeable, or it can be so severe that it may lead to loss of balance.

What are the Symptoms of Vertigo?

The symptoms associated with vertigo are: Dizziness, vomiting, a sensation of being sick and loss of balance.

What are the Common Causes or Triggers for Vertigo Attacks?

Vertigo itself is a symptom of another medical condition. The medical conditions that most commonly cause or trigger vertigo are:

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. This is the most common causative condition of having vertigo as a symptom. In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, small crystals break free and float inside the tubes (semicircular canal) present in the internal ear. The patient experience short episodes of vertigo in BPPV. The vertigo attacks in Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo are triggered by the head movements. The exact cause of BPPV is not known; but the doctors predict it to be because of a minor or a severe blow to the head.

Labyrinthitis. Labyrinthitis is a condition in which there is irritation and swelling in the inner ear, which triggers or causes vertigo attack. Labyrinthitis is also known as vestibular neuritis. The occurrence of labyrinthitis is associated with inner ear infection or virus. The vertigo attacks in labyrinthitis are sudden. Along with vertigo, hearing loss is also a common symptom of labyrinthitis.

Meniere’s Disease. Meniere’s disease is a condition in which fluid accumulates in the inner ear and triggers vertigo. The causative factor of this condition can be a viral infection, allergy or a head injury. The vertigo attacks in Meniere’s disease are sudden, severe and last for long. The other symptoms of Meniere’s disease are ringing in ear, hearing loss or plugged ears.

Other Less Common Causes or Triggers of Vertigo Attacks Are:

  • Otosclerosis. It is an abnormal bone growth in the middle of the ear which can trigger a vertigo attack and can lead to hearing loss.
  • Cholesteatoma. Irregular skin growth in the middle ear and behind the eardrum is known as cholesteatoma. It develops as a result of frequent ear infection and can trigger a vertigo attack.
  • Stroke. Bleeding in the brain or a clot present in the brain; or a stroke can lead vertigo and dizziness.
  • Migraine. People who suffer from a migraine also present with vertigo and dizziness as its symptoms. Anything which triggers migraine also triggers vertigo symptoms.
  • Pregnancy. Vertigo and dizziness develop during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes, low blood sugar levels, baby pressing the vein, which carries blood to the heart, and pressure on the blood vessels due to the expanding uterus.
  • Diabetes. Low blood sugar levels can trigger vertigo. Also sometimes the complication from diabetes can lead to hardening of the arteries, which leads to less blood flow to the brain causing vertigo.
  • Chiari Malformation. It is a congenital condition in which the brain tissue extends to the spinal cord. Chiari Malformation condition can sometimes cause or trigger vertigo.
  • Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a neurological disease and vertigo and dizziness are experienced by the patients, which is caused due to the growth of the existing lesion or appearance of a new lesion in the brain, which triggers vertigo. The patient often feels lightheaded and loses balance. There is a sensation of objects spinning around.
  • Anxiety Attacks. Anxiety attacks often cause the patient to experience vertigo. Stress is also a trigger of vertigo.
  • Medications. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, sedatives, blood pressure medicines, anti-seizure drugs and tranquilizers can also cause or trigger a vertigo attack.
  • Air Pressure Changes. Most people experience vertigo when there is pressure difference experienced while flying or diving underwater. The name given to such vertigo is alternobaric vertigo.
  • Brain Tumor. Tumor present in brain or cerebellum can cause vertigo.
  • Allergies. Few allergens such as dust, molds, dander and certain food can trigger vertigo attacks in people who are allergic to them.

All the above are the conditions which trigger vertigo attacks. The accompanying symptoms of vertigo vary depending on the condition or the cause; and so does the cure.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Vertigo. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20370055
  2. WebMD. (2021). Vertigo and Dizziness – Topic Overview. https://www.webmd.com/brain/vertigo-symptoms-causes-treatment
  3. Healthline. (2021). Vertigo: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. https://www.healthline.com/health/vertigo
  4. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2021). Understanding the Facts. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia/symptoms

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 7, 2023

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