Vertigo, or dizziness, is a symptom, not a disease. The term vertigo refers to the sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs as a result of a disturbance in balance (equilibrium). It also may be used to describe feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, and unsteadiness. When the patient has the sensation of movement, it is called subjective vertigo and when there is the perception of movement in surrounding objects, this is called objective vertigo.
Vertigo usually occurs as a result of a disorder in the vestibular system (i.e., structures of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, brainstem, and cerebellum). The vestibular system is responsible for integrating sensory stimuli and movement and for keeping objects in visual focus as the body moves. Vertigo is one of the most common health problems in adults. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 40% of people in the United States experience feeling dizzy at least once during their lifetime. Prevalence is slightly higher in women and increases with age.