DEAR MAYO CLINIC: What causes vertigo? Does having it one time mean I’m more likely to experience it again?
ANSWER: Vertigo is a sensation that either you or your surroundings, or both, are spinning or moving when they are not. Some people confuse vertigo with dizziness, but there is a difference. Dizziness typically is a feeling of being lightheaded, or it may be a loss of balance that makes you unsteady on your feet. Dizziness usually does not involve the feeling that either you or something in your environment is moving.
A number of disorders can trigger vertigo. The most common is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. If you have BPPV once, you are at an increased risk of getting it again. In many cases, BPPV can be successfully treated.
For many adults, BPPV is the underlying source of vertigo. With BPPV, vertigo happens when you move a certain way. Sitting up, tilting your head or lying down may all trigger vertigo if you have BPPV.