A common complaint that we frequently evaluate and treat is dizziness. Visits for this problem are usually complicated by the fact that patients often have a difficult time describing what they feel. Time and cost of the medical visit, therefore, can be decreased if the patient determines beforehand whether he/she is experiencing either vertigo or a faint/near faint condition. The causes of these different types of dizziness are quite different, as are the treatments.
Vertigo is a spinning or whirling sensation, often severe enough to make one fall down. It is similar to the sensation one gets after riding an amusement park ride. Nausea is common, and many times there are changes in hearing. Sounds such as ringing, buzzing or roaring (tinnitus) or difficulty hearing can occur. Loss of consciousness is rare.
Fainting or almost fainting (syncope or near syncope) is totally different. It is losing consciousness or feeling like this could happen imminently. People describe the sensation as a tunnel closing in around them. Others describe a generalized weakness, or a sensation of floating. Nausea rarely occurs, and symptoms lessen or resolve when a person lays down…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA