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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Vertigo/'the spins'

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

Vertigo or “the spins” is usually caused by a problem with your inner ear. When people have vertigo, the room appears to spin or move, which can make you feel very ill, and you may vomit. One reason for vertigo is if there is inflammation in your inner ear, which can happen when you are fighting off an infection like a cold. The inner ear works together with your eyes to detect where you are in space. If it is inflamed, it cannot do its job, which is why your surroundings feel as though they are spinning or moving.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this kind of vertigo, but it usually goes away on its own in 1-2 weeks.

If you have been diagnosed with vertigo, make sure to get a lot of sleep. Most importantly, move very slowly. Do not turn your head quickly or get up from bed suddenly. Instead, sit up very slowly, and turn your whole body, instead of just your head, when you need to look to the side (and do it slowly).

There is a prescription medication available for vertigo, called “SERC.” While it may be worth trying, this medication usually makes you drowsy and may or may not help with the vertigo.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. A new headache or confusion
  2. Feeling very sleepy or drowsy (without having taken SERC or Gravol, or after they have worn off, since both can cause drowsiness)
  3. Weakness in one arm, one leg or one side of your body or face
  4. Changes in your vision
  5. A mild spinning sensation that is present every day. This may be more concerning than severe vertigo which causes vomiting.