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Clin Ter. 2003 Sep-Oct;154(5):341-8.

What is vertigo?

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Department of Otolaryngology, University Campus Bio-Medico-Rome, Italy.


Vertigo is one of the types of dizziness with dysequilibrium, presyncope and lightheadedness. But what does vertigo mean? Vertigo indicates a sensation of false movement (generally described like a rotation) but sometimes the patient can describe it like a sensation of tilt. Instead, the word dizziness indicates a sensation of disturbed relation to surrounding objects in space with feelings of rotation or whirling characteristic of vertigo as well as non-rotatory swaying, weakness, faintness and unsteadiness characteristic of giddiness. In our review we describe, after brief considerations about functional anatomy of the vestibular system, the most important cause of vertigo considering the duration of the symptom; moreover we underline the importance of anamnesis and of the objective examination for a correct differential diagnosis of a dizzy patient. As to objective examination we describe the most important characteristics of nystagmus, that is the only objective sign in vertigo, of central and peripheral origin. At last we consider the most efficacious therapies, like as medications (specific and aspecific), surgery (conservative and destructive) and rehabilitation, in relation the characteristics and the causes of vertigo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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