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Vertigo: Care Instructions


Vertigo is the feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. It is often described as a feeling of spinning, whirling, falling, or tilting. Vertigo may make you vomit or feel nauseated. You may have trouble standing or walking and may lose your balance.

Vertigo is often related to an inner ear problem, but it can have other more serious causes. If vertigo continues, you may need more tests to find its cause.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not lie flat on your back. Prop yourself up slightly. This may reduce the spinning feeling. Keep your eyes open.
  • Move slowly to decrease your chance of falling.
  • If your doctor recommends medicine, take it exactly as directed.
  • Do not drive while you are having vertigo.

Certain exercises, called Brandt-Daroff exercises, can help decrease vertigo. To do Brandt-Daroff exercises:

  • Sit on the edge of a bed or sofa and quickly lie down on the side that causes the worst vertigo. Lie on your side with your ear down.
  • Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds or until the vertigo goes away.
  • Sit up. If this causes vertigo, wait for it to stop.
  • Repeat the procedure on the other side.
  • Repeat this 10 times. Do these exercises 2 times a day until the vertigo is gone.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden dizziness that doesn't get better.
  • You have dizziness along with symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Light-headedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Vertigo occurs with a fever, a headache, or ringing in your ears.
  • You have new or increased nausea and vomiting.
  • Your vertigo gets worse or happens more often.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.