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Vertigo vs. Vertiginous — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 1, 2024
Vertigo refers to a sensation of spinning dizziness, often related to inner ear disorders; vertiginous describes inducing vertigo or feeling dizzy.
Vertigo vs. Vertiginous — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Vertigo and Vertiginous


Key Differences

Vertigo is a specific medical condition characterized by the sensation that one's surroundings are spinning, commonly due to issues in the inner ear such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's disease, or vestibular neuritis. On the other hand, vertiginous is an adjective used to describe something that causes vertigo, such as a vertiginous cliff, or the feeling of vertigo itself.
Individuals experiencing vertigo might report symptoms like balance problems, nausea, and difficulty standing or walking, which can severely affect daily activities. Whereas, vertiginous can be used more broadly to describe feelings of dizziness in various situations, not necessarily linked to a diagnosed condition, such as feeling vertiginous from a high viewpoint.
Vertigo is often triggered by changes in the position of the head relative to gravity, indicating a disruption in the vestibular system of the inner ear. Whereas vertiginous experiences can be triggered by visual stimuli or psychological factors, illustrating a broader range of causes.
Treatment for vertigo typically involves maneuvers to relocate canaliths in the inner ear, medications, or lifestyle adjustments, aimed at addressing the underlying cause. Conversely, experiencing something vertiginous may not require medical intervention unless it frequently triggers vertigo-like symptoms.
Understanding vertigo involves consulting healthcare professionals who can diagnose and manage the underlying disorders causing the symptoms. On the other hand, describing a situation or feeling as vertiginous does not imply a medical condition but rather a temporary and situational reaction.

Comparison Chart


A medical condition causing spinning dizziness.
Describes something causing or resembling vertigo.




Inner ear disorders, vestibular nerve issues, brain problems
Heights, visual stimuli, psychological factors


Maneuvers, medications, lifestyle changes
Often not needed unless it induces medical vertigo


Spinning sensation, balance issues, nausea
Feeling of dizziness, disorientation

Compare with Definitions


Often associated with balance disorders stemming from inner ear problems.
She was diagnosed with vertigo after several falls.


Used to describe feelings of extreme disorientation or dizziness.
He felt vertiginous after riding the roller coaster.


Can cause nausea and vomiting due to the sensation of spinning.
The vertigo was so severe that it made him nauseous.


Not limited to medical conditions but more about sensation or perception.
The artwork created a vertiginous effect with its swirling colors.


A condition of dizziness felt as if the surrounding environment is spinning.
After spinning around, he felt an intense vertigo.


Sometimes used to describe abstract concepts that are overwhelming.
The philosopher’s theories are intellectually vertiginous.


Triggers can include rapid changes in head movements.
Looking up suddenly triggered her vertigo.


Relating to or causing a sensation of spinning or dizziness.
The vertiginous heights of the skyscraper made her dizzy.


May require medical diagnosis and treatment to manage effectively.
His doctor performed several tests to confirm vertigo.


Can apply to physically daunting or fear-inducing scenarios.
The cliff's vertiginous drop was terrifying.


Vertigo is a condition where a person has the sensation of moving or of surrounding objects moving when they are not. Often it feels like a spinning or swaying movement.


Extremely high or steep
Vertiginous drops to the valleys below


A sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness.


Turning about an axis; revolving or whirling.


The sensation of dizziness.


Affected by vertigo; dizzy.


An instance of such a sensation.


Tending to produce vertigo
"my small mind contained in earthly human limits, not lost in vertiginous space and elements unknown" (Diana Cooper).


A confused, disoriented state of mind.


Inclined to change quickly; unstable.


A sensation of whirling and loss of balance, caused by looking down from a great height or by disease affecting the inner ear.


Having an aspect of great depth, drawing the eye to look downwards.


A disordered or imbalanced state of mind or things analogous to physical vertigo; mental giddiness or dizziness.


(pharmaceutical effect) Inducing a feeling of giddiness, vertigo, dizziness or of whirling.


The act of whirling round and round; rapid rotation.


Pertaining to vertigo (in all its meanings).


A snail of the genus Vertigo.


Revolving; rotating; rotatory.


Dizziness or swimming of the head; an affection of the head in which objects, though stationary, appear to move in various directions, and the person affected finds it difficult to maintain an erect posture; giddiness.


Turning round; whirling; rotary; revolving; as, a vertiginous motion.
Some vertiginous whirl of fortune.


Any one of numerous species of small land snails belonging to the genus Vertigo, having an elongated or conical spiral shell and usually teeth in the aperture.


Affected with vertigo; giddy; dizzy.
They [the angels] grew vertiginous, and fell from the battlements of heaven.


A reeling sensation; feeling about to fall


Having or causing a whirling sensation; liable to falling;
Had a dizzy spell
A dizzy pinnacle
Had a headache and felt giddy
A giddy precipice
Feeling woozy from the blow on his head
A vertiginous climb up the face of the cliff

Common Curiosities

What does vertiginous mean?

Vertiginous refers to causing or characterized by dizziness or a spinning sensation.

How do you treat vertigo?

Treatments include positional maneuvers, medications, and lifestyle adjustments.

Can anxiety cause vertiginous feelings?

Yes, anxiety can sometimes cause sensations that are described as vertiginous.

What are common triggers for vertigo?

Triggers include rapid head movements, ear infections, and certain medications.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a condition where a person feels as if they or their surroundings are spinning.

Can medications cause vertigo?

Certain medications can induce vertigo as a side effect.

Is vertigo a serious medical condition?

It can be, especially if it affects balance and increases the risk of falls.

Can vertigo go away on its own?

Some forms of vertigo resolve without treatment, but others require medical intervention.

Are there exercises for vertigo?

Yes, there are specific vestibular rehabilitation exercises designed to alleviate vertigo.

Is vertigo always linked to the inner ear?

Most commonly, but vertigo can also stem from neurological or cardiovascular issues.

What should you avoid if you suffer from vertigo?

Avoid rapid changes in position, dehydration, and stress, as these can worsen symptoms.

Can children experience vertigo?

Yes, children can also experience vertigo, though it is more commonly reported in adults.

How can you tell if a feeling is vertiginous?

If it involves a dizzy, disorienting sensation, especially with changes in perspective, it may be described as vertiginous.

What is the difference between vertigo and simple dizziness?

Vertigo specifically involves a spinning sensation, while dizziness might just be a feeling of light-headedness without the rotational component.

Does vertiginous always mean related to heights?

No, vertiginous can describe any situation or sensation that causes dizziness, not just heights.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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