Dizziness classification

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Debduti Mukhopadhyay, M.B.B.S[2] Fatimo Biobaku M.B.B.S [3] Norina Usman, M.B.B.S[4]


Based on the symptoms, dizziness may be classified into vertigo, presyncope, disequilibrium, lightheadedness. Vertigo can further be classified into timing and trigger as well as based on the area of pathology such as central and/ or peripheral.


Dizziness may be classified into subtypes based on the symptoms[1]:

Classification of Dizziness[2]
Type of Dizziness Description Origin of Disorder
Type I Dizziness


Vestibular system disorder

(Peripheral OR Central)

Type II Dizziness

(Impending faint/Presyncope)

Non Vestibular system disorder
Type III Dizziness (Disequilibrium)
  • Loss of balance without an abnormal sensation in the head occurs
  • Occurs when walking and disappears upon sitting down.
  • Occurs as a result of a disorder of motor system control
Type IV Dizziness
  • Vague lightheadedness occurs
  • It includes dizziness that cannot be identified with certainty as any of the other types


One way to classify dizziness and vertigo is based on the timing and trigger as follows:[3]

-New continuous:
  - Post-exposure acute vestibular syndrome (e.g., after gentamicin)
  - Spontaneous acute vestibular syndrome (e.g., stroke of posterior fossa)
-Chronic, persistent:
  - Chronic vestibular syndrome (unilateral vestibular loss, present with head movement)
  - Spontaneous chronic vestibular syndrome (associated with degeneration of cerebellum)

Vertigo can be further classified into peripheral and central based on the area of pathology (explained further under the pathophysiology section): [4][5]

  -Ischemia or infarction of the brainstem
  -Vertebrobasilar insuffiency
  -Demyelination syndromes like multiple sclerosis
  -Space occupying lesions (both benign and malignant)
  -Arnold-Chiari malformation
  -Vestibular migraine
  -Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  -Cogan syndrome (autoimmune condition that affects eyes and inner ears)
  -Acoustic neuroma
  -Herpes zoster
  -Vestibular neuritis
  -Medication toxicity (e.g., aminoglycosides, etc)
  -Perilymphatic fistula


  1. Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW (1990). "Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations". PMID 21250167.
  2. Mukherjee A, Chatterjee SK, Chakravarty A (2003). "Vertigo and dizziness--a clinical approach". J Assoc Physicians India. 51: 1095–101. PMID 15260396.
  3. Newman-Toker DE, Edlow JA (August 2015). "TiTrATE: A Novel, Evidence-Based Approach to Diagnosing Acute Dizziness and Vertigo". Neurol Clin. 33 (3): 577–99, viii. doi:10.1016/j.ncl.2015.04.011. PMC 4522574. PMID 26231273.
  4. Lui F, Foris LA, Willner K, Tadi P. PMID 28722891. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Baumgartner B, Taylor RS. PMID 28613548. Missing or empty |title= (help)

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