How does the time course of vertigo help identify its etiology?

Updated: Mar 13, 2017
  • Author: Hesham M Samy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Robert A Egan, MD  more...
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The time course of vertigo is important:

  • Episodic vertigo that lasts for days with nausea and no other ear or CNS symptoms is usually due to vestibular neuritis, especially following viral illness

  • Episodic vertigo that lasts for seconds and is associated with head or body position changes is probably due to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

  • Vertigo that lasts for hours is probably caused by Ménière disease (if associated with hydropic ear symptoms)

  • Vertigo of sudden onset that lasts for minutes can be due to migraine or brain or vascular disease, especially if cerebrovascular risk factors are present

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