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The brain helps the rest of your body to move and feel oriented with the world around it. Vertigo or dizziness can throw off this sense of orientation and cause a lack of balance.

With the right diagnosis, medication and tools, you can better manage symptoms of MS such as vertigo or dizziness.

MS, vertigo and dizziness

Have you ever felt dizzy or like the room is spinning, even when standing still? There can be simple reasons for this, such as low blood pressure, but you could be experiencing vertigo. When it comes to MS, ‘dizziness’ and ‘vertigo’ are often used interchangeably, although they can be quite different.


Vertigo is an overpowering sense of movement that can make it difficult to walk or stand. Episodes usually don’t last more than a few hours, but in more chronic cases, vertigo can take days or weeks to go away. Vertigo can be paired with nausea or vomiting.

MS damages the connective nerves between the brain and other parts of the body, which can affect the area of the brain that controls balance – causing vertigo in some people.


Dizziness, on the other hand, is more of an umbrella term for the sensation of being lightheaded, off-balance or disoriented. Vertigo is a type of dizziness, but it’s more acute and can be harder to control.

Dizziness is a common symptom of MS. However, getting a wave of dizziness could also be a sign of dehydration, a sudden drop in blood pressure or low blood sugar. Be sure to stay hydrated, keep your blood sugars up by eating a healthy diet and try to rise slowly if you’ve been sitting or lying down, rather than getting up suddenly. Focusing on some deep breathing before getting up can also help.

As a broader term, dizziness can also be a telltale sign of a stroke or other health conditions. If you start experiencing dizziness or vertigo, don’t wait. Seek emergency care as soon as possible.

Peripheral vertigo vs. central vertigo

Peripheral vertigo is the most common type of vertigo that’s caused by inner ear problems. It can be accompanied by hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing of the ears). Peripheral vertigo isn’t linked to MS.

Central vertigo is another type of vertigo that relates to MS and other brain conditions or injuries.

Your GP can determine which type of vertigo you may have and help you find medication and strategies to manage symptoms.

Treatments for MS dizziness or vertigo

Your doctor can help you manage symptoms by prescribing medication for motion sickness. For more serious or ongoing symptoms, they might prescribe corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory medicine that resembles the steroid hormone, cortisol).

If you’re experiencing vertigo for hours or days, or it comes with other symptoms, your doctor may refer you to an occupational or physiotherapist. These specialists can teach you safe movements, so it’s easier to live life and achieve tasks. You may also be referred to a neurologist.

Staying safe and avoiding falls

Experiencing vertigo, especially for the first time, can be scary and disorienting. To stay safe and avoid falls, there are some steps you can take both in and outside of the home.

Learn more about MS

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