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Vertigo Case Studies

by Ron Kurtus (4 November 2006)

Vertigo is the feeling that things around you are moving or spinning. The most common cause of vertigo is a tiny stone that is loose in your inner ear. It can also be a side-effect of migraine headaches.

Vertigo is not the fear of heights.

There are examples or case studies to illustrate these items.

(See Vertigo for more information on the malady.)

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer

Inner ear stone

Mary woke up about three in the morning and opened her eyes, but then everything started to spin. If she would lie under back, the spinning would go away, but as soon as she rolled over on her side, everything would start to turn.

Just to make sure she wasn't having a stroke or some other problem like that, her husband drove her to the emergency hospital. After an examination, the doctor concluded that her problem was a bout of vertigo. He said it probably was a small calcium deposit that was loose in her inner ear. He said she may suffer from vertigo on occasion, but it wasn't a serious condition.

The doctor gave her some medication to prevent dizziness and nausea and a prescription for that medication. Mary felt dopey all day from the medication. She did suffer from vertigo again several weeks later, but at least she knew what the cause was.


Lewis had been involved in a serious car accident. There had been trauma to his head, which later caused him to have migraine headaches and dizziness. Sometimes he would get vertigo before a migraine and other times it would happen after his migraine headache started.

Doctors gave him medication for his migraine headaches, but there really wasn't much relief. He would also continually get the vertigo attacks. Medications for the vertigo made him drowsy, so he was seldom could drive again.

Lewis did learn to cope with his injuries and problems.

Vertigo, the movie

Vertigo is a 1958 movie that was a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This movie is said to be responsible for confusing vertigo with acrophobia, which is the fear of heights. Acrophobia can also cause dizziness. On the other hand, vertigo is the feeling of things around you spinning. It has nothing to do with heights.

The story starts by telling how a San Francisco detective Ferguson—played by actor Jimmy Stewart—develops acrophobia after a fellow policeman falls to his death during a rooftop chase. Ferguson is forced to retire from police work. Whenever he looks out from a window in an upper-story apartment, he is paralyzed with fear and dizziness.

He then becomes involved in a murder case. In the end, his lover confesses to him her knowledge of the crime, but she accidentally falls from the roof of a building right after the confession. This cures Ferguson from his acrophobia and dizzy spells. (Hey! It's only a movie!)


Feeling that things around you are moving or spinning is a symptom of vertigo. Examples or case studies of vertigo include a sudden attack due to a loose calcium deposit in the inner ear and periodic vertigo as a result in head trauma and migraine headaches. Also, the movie Vertigo provided a misconception of what vertigo really is.

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Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Mayo Clinic - Senior Health - Dizziness

eMedicine Health - Vertigo

General Health Resources


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