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vertigo (vûrˈtĭgō), sensations of moving in space or of objects moving about a person and the resultant difficulty in maintaining equilibrium. True vertigo, as distinguished from faintness, lightheadedness, and other forms of dizziness, occurs as a result of a disturbance of some part of the body's balancing mechanism, located in the inner ear (e.g., vestibule, semicircular canals, auditory nerves). Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common kind, is the result of the displacement some of the calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia) from a fluid-filled cavity (the utricle) in the labyrinth of the ear into the semicircular canals, where they interfere with normal fluid movement. In many cases, BPPV may be treated by maneuvers designed to reposition the crystals that are easily done by a health-care provider. Labyrinthitis, or infection and irritation of the middle and inner ear, also is a common cause of vertigo, as is Ménière's disease. Correction or elimination of the mechanical, infectious, toxic, or environmental factors underlying the disturbance is essential for permanent relief.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a sensation of disturbance of body balance and seeming rotation of surrounding objects. In the ontogeny of a human being a certain definite conception of the individual’s interrelationship with surrounding objects (space) is formed; the principal role in this is played by the information that enters the central nervous system from the vestibular apparatus, the organs of sight, and nerve endings that receive deep and cutaneous responses. When there is a disturbance in the transmission or perception of this information, vertigo occurs. Vertigo may sometimes arise in healthy persons, for example when there is extreme or prolonged stimulation of the vestibular apparatus (movement with considerable linear or angular acceleration, swinging, etc.), as a result of intensive rhythmic stimulation of the receptors of the eyeballs (prolonged fixation of the gaze on a moving object), or with absence in surrounding space of accustomed points that determine space orientation (at high altitudes).

Vertigo often arises in certain diseased conditions, such as diseases of the vestibular analysor (labyrinth, audio-vestibular nerve, vestibular nuclei of the brain stem, supranuclear structures, cortex, and, above all, areas of the temporal-parietooccipital junction) and of the visual and oculomotor apparatus, as well as in pathology of the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, and other organs. The causes of affection of the vestibular analysor may be inflammatory or noninflammatory diseases of the labyrinth; otosclerosis; Ménière’s disease; infectious, toxic, or traumatic influences on the audio-vestibular nerve; disturbances in circulation of cerebrospinal fluid; vascular, inflammatory, toxic, oncological, and parasitic brain diseases; and, more rarely, functional diseases of the nervous system. Vertigo is usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, slow pulse, pallor, change in arterial pressure, and the appearance of nystagmus. Treatment consists of removal of the causes; acetyl-cholinolytic preparations, vitamin B6, and therapeutic exercises are prescribed.


Min’kovskii, A. Kh. “Golovokruzhenie.” In Problemy labirintologii. Cheliabinsk, 1966.
Khechinashvili, S. N. “Golovokruzhenie.” Klinicheskaia meditsina, 1964, vol. 42, no. 9.
Piquet, J., and J. J. Piquet. Les Vertiges. Paris, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The sensation that the outer world is revolving about the patient (objective vertigo) or that the patient is moving in space (subjective vertigo).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A type of spatial disorientation caused by the physical senses sending conflicting signals to the brain. The eyes send the signal that the aircraft is in a certain attitude, while the inner ear indicates a different attitude—hence, the confusion. The situation can be dangerous when flying in clouds, at night, and in poor visibility conditions. The defense lies in concentration on and confidence in flight instruments.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


Pathol a sensation of dizziness or abnormal motion resulting from a disorder of the sense of balance
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005