How long does vertigo last?
An episode of vertigo can last from seconds to weeks, depending on the associated conditions1. Indeed, the cause of vertigo plays a key role in how long an episode will last.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It is often described by patients as a spinning sensation produced by changes in head position relative to gravity. Patients typically experience brief attacks that last for only seconds.2
Patients who experience repeated episodes of vertigo followed by a ringing noise or pressure inside their ears may have Ménière’s disease. In this case, the vertigo episode will last between 20 minutes and a few hours.2
Blurred vision, nausea, and increased sensitivity to light and sound may be caused by a vestibular migraine.3 Vestibular migraines can also be characterized by an intense spinning sensation that can last minutes, hours, or even days.2
Vestibular neuronitis is often due to an infection in the inner ear. The spinning sensation can last from hours to days, with a peak in symptoms, such as nausea and balance problems occurring between 24 and 48 hours.4 Even with closed eyes, the sensation of spinning is intense and worsened by head movement.
Cases of severe vertigo are rare, but the symptoms can last for months, especially if left untreated.5, 6
If you experience vertigo, it is crucial to discuss your condition with a doctor. It takes only a minute to find the phone number of your doctor and make an appointment. Vertigo can be triggered in many ways, and your doctor will be the best person to evaluate the risks and help manage them.
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. An Approach to Vertigo in General Practice. https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2016/april/an-approach-to-vertigo-in-general-practice/. Published 2020. Accessed October 28, 2020.
- Bateman K, Rogers C, Meyer E. An Approach to Acute Vertigo. S Afr Med J. 2015;05(8):694.
- Ménière’s Society. Vestibular Migraine. https://www.menieres.org.uk/information-and-support/symptoms-and-conditions/migraine-associated-vertigo. Published 2020. Accessed October 28, 2020.
- Smith T, Rider J, et al. Vestibular Neuronitis. Published 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549866/. Accessed October 28, 2020.
- New Health Service. Vertigo. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vertigo/#:~:text=Vertigo%20feels%20like%20you%20or,for%20many%20days%20or%20months. Published 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.
- Wetchester Medical Center. Balance Issues. https://www.wmchealthaps.com/common-balance-issues. Published 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.