Vertigo can sometimes be a symptom of a stroke. However, it will typically occur alongside other symptoms. More common stroke symptoms include face drooping, vision changes, or sudden difficulty talking or walking.

Vertigo is a medical condition in which a person experiences a sensation of spinning or that their surroundings are spinning around them. This feeling can be disorienting and may be due to issues related to the inner ear or brain.

A stroke occurs from an interruption or reduction of blood supply to part of the brain, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the sudden death of brain cells.

Symptoms of a stroke may include sudden numbness, confusion, weakness, a severe headache, or trouble speaking, seeing, or walking. Strokes require immediate medical attention as they can lead to serious brain damage or death.

This article explains whether vertigo can indicate a stroke and when someone should contact a doctor about either condition.

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Vertigo can occur during a brain stem stroke. However, it will typically occur alongside other symptoms, such as:

  • difficulty speaking
  • weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • vision problems, such as double vision
  • a severe headache
  • a decreased level of consciousness

Vertigo may also occur due to a cerebellar stroke, which can cause other symptoms, such as nausea, slurred speech, vision problems, and difficulty walking.

On its own, vertigo is not usually a sign of stroke.

What else causes vertigo?

Other potential causes of vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This is the most common cause of vertigo and occurs when tiny calcium particles gather together in the canals of the inner ear, disrupting signals to the brain.
  • Certain medications: Some medications can cause vertigo as a side effect.
  • Meniere disease: This involves an accumulation of fluid and changing pressure in the ear, leading to episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
  • Migraine: Some people with migraine experience vertigo as a symptom, even without a headache.
  • Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis: This is an inner ear problem usually related to an infection that causes inflammation around the nerves that help the body sense balance.
  • Other medical conditions: Less commonly, vertigo can be a symptom of more serious medical conditions, such as a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis.

Recognizing the signs of a stroke is critical for timely medical intervention, which can significantly improve outcomes. Common signs of a stroke include:

  • sudden confusion, which may include difficulty understanding speech or trouble expressing oneself
  • facial drooping
  • numbness or weakness, particularly on one side of the body
  • difficulty walking or trouble with coordination
  • difficulty speaking, such as slurred speech
  • sudden vision changes in one or both eyes
  • a sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause

The acronym F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) can help a person remember the critical signs of a stroke and emphasize the importance of acting quickly.

Learn about the treatment options for a stroke and vertigo below.


The immediate treatment for a stroke depends on the type of stroke a person is having.

An ischemic stroke occurs due to a blockage of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. Its treatment involves medications to dissolve clots and restore blood flow to the brain.

The first-line option is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which requires administration within 3 hours from the onset of symptoms for effectiveness.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to bleeding in the brain. Treatment aims to control bleeding and reduce pressure in the brain. Surgery may be necessary to repair damaged blood vessels or relieve pressure.

Brain stem strokes can occur due to clots or a hemorrhage, so treatment will depend on its origin.

After the stroke, treatment steps may include:


Treatment for vertigo may include:

  • Medications: Depending on the cause, medications may relieve symptoms, such as nausea or motion sickness. For Meniere disease, doctors may prescribe diuretics.
  • Physical therapy: Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of therapy designed to alleviate symptoms of vertigo. Exercises aim to improve balance and reduce dizziness.
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers: For BPPV, a doctor can perform specific head and body movements, such as the Epley maneuver, to move calcium deposits out of the ear canal into an inner ear chamber.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Doctors may advise people to make adjustments to reduce the risk of falls and manage triggers for vertigo.

People should seek emergency medical help if they experience vertigo alongside any sudden symptoms of a stroke, including:

  • numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body
  • confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • trouble walking, dizziness, a loss of balance, or a lack of coordination
  • a severe headache with no known cause

Vertigo alone is not a likely indicator of stroke. However, people can speak with a healthcare professional to identify the underlying cause and learn about their treatment options.

Vertigo and stroke are distinct conditions, but for some people, vertigo can be a symptom of a stroke. It is typically only a cause for concern if it appears alongside other symptoms, such as sudden weakness on one side of the body.

Prompt treatment is vital to improve a person’s outcome if they experience a stroke. Anyone with stroke symptoms should seek immediate medical help.

Vertigo alone may be the result of another health condition. People can speak with a doctor to diagnose the underlying cause if they frequently experience vertigo.