How Long Does Vertigo Last?

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If you've ever felt like the world around you was spinning while you stood still, you may have experienced vertigo. This condition can range in intensity from a mild dizzy sensation to knocking you off balance. It's different from being light-headed and comes in two primary forms: peripheral and central.

Peripheral vertigo is an inner ear problem, while central vertigo is linked to neurological issues. The severity and how long vertigo lasts depend on its underlying cause.

This article will explore some common causes of vertigo, its typical duration, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Woman standing by an open window in the kitchen with her hands over her face

FG Trade / Getty Images

Vertigo Might Not Last That Long

You can develop a dizzying or spinning sensation for several reasons. If it happens after you've quickly changed positions, been on a boat or airplane, or experienced sudden shifts in elevation, the feeling is usually short-lived.

Benign positional vertigo (BPPV) is a peripheral type of vertigo and one of the most common varieties of this condition overall. With this type of vertigo, your inner ear canal becomes particularly sensitive to movement and sends exaggerated messages about your body's positioning and balance to your brain.

For most people with BPPV, episodes of vertigo are short-lived, lasting less than a minute in most cases. However, episodes of vertigo can come and go, with 15% to 20% of people with BPPV having repeated attacks within a year. About half of all people who develop BPPV see their vertigo symptoms disappear within one to three months, even without treatment.

Extreme and Recurring Vertigo

People with severe or recurrent vertigo because of an ongoing chronic condition like multiple sclerosis or a seizure disorder may have a more difficult time resolving feelings of spinning or movement.

About 90% of people with vertigo have the peripheral, short-lived version. People with chronic conditions that can cause central vertigo may find that symptoms come and go over time as the disease progresses, as is the case in people who have multiple sclerosis. Receiving treatment for the underlying condition that causes your vertigo may help to relieve your symptoms.

Will Vertigo Go Away on Its Own?

Episodes of vertigo can last from a few seconds to a few hours, recurring over months. For most people who experience vertigo, episodes come and go over a few weeks to months but eventually disappear without treatment. Central vertigo resulting from chronic problems such as multiple sclerosis can be more challenging to manage.

Underlying Causes of Vertigo

Various medical conditions and medications produce feelings of dizziness, but true vertigo is tied to several conditions grouped by whether you experience central or peripheral vertigo.

Peripheral Vertigo Causes

Peripheral vertigo results from a problem in the area of your inner ear that controls balance. Conditions that have been linked to peripheral vertigo include:

Central Vertigo Causes

Central vertigo is caused by a problem in your brain stem or cerebellum (the area in the back of the head between the brain stem and cerebrum). The most common conditions linked to central vertigo include:

Some seizure medications, aspirin, and even alcohol can also lead to problems with central vertigo.

Vertigo From Travel?

You can develop vertigo after being on a cruise ship, airplane, or other forms of travel. Also known as mal de débarquement syndrome (MdDS) or disembarkment syndrome, this problem usually occurs after traveling. If you develop this symptom after traveling, it may be short-lived, but there have also been reported spontaneous cases of MdDs not associated with travel that went on for years.

Vertigo Symptoms

With either type of vertigo, it can be common to experience symptoms like:

Other symptoms you may have—but usually only happen with central vertigo—include:

Relief During a Vertigo Episode

Treating the underlying cause of central vertigo can help reduce symptoms, but your spinning sensation may not go away completely. With cases of central or peripheral vertigo, repositioning maneuvers can sometimes bring relief.

The Epley maneuver is one way to relieve symptoms of vertigo. It's typically used for peripheral vertigo and is only effective for BPPV. when c Calcium deposits break free in the inner ear and move around the inner ear, giving abnormal messages about movement and balance to the brain. A repositioning maneuver aims to get the calcium deposits to shift within the inner ear so that they are no longer causing a problem.

The Epley maneuver includes the following steps:

  1. Sit upright.
  2. Tilt your head back slightly.
  3. Move your head slightly in the direction of the affected ear.
  4. Lie on your back, with your head still facing the affected side.
  5. Remain in this position for about 30 seconds.
  6. Now, turn your head in the opposite direction, tilting it back slightly.
  7. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  8. Next, turn your entire body in the opposite direction of the affected ear, moving your head with your body until you face the floor.
  9. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  10. End this exercise by returning to an upright sitting position.

Should You Get a Vertigo Diagnosis?

If you have repeated episodes of vertigo that can't be explained by another condition like stroke or multiple sclerosis, consider making an appointment to see a healthcare provider. An official vertigo diagnosis may help providers rule out other conditions or identify underlying problems.

If the cause of your vertigo is another condition, such as a stroke, seizures, or multiple sclerosis, treatment of these problems may help to alleviate symptoms of vertigo.

Can You Get Vertigo With COVID-19?

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hearing, smell, and taste symptoms have been frequently reported. Studies now suggest that COVID-19 also was the cause of new hearing loss and vertigo problems found in young people who had no history of these issues before their COVID-19 diagnosis. Studies have also suggested that vertigo, tinnitus (ringing or other sounds in the ear), and hearing loss may be possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

More research is needed to determine whether the virus causing COVID-19 or the treatments used to fight it play a more significant role in new-onset vertigo and other vestibular system (inner ear) problems.


For most people with vertigo, the spinning sensation lasts a few seconds to several minutes and usually goes away without treatment. People with recurring vertigo may have severe problems in the inner ear canal or brain, or have another medical condition contributing to the problem.

If you have vertigo that comes and goes frequently or is so severe that it causes you to fall, you should make an appointment to see a healthcare provider.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: What can you do if you have BPPV?

  5. Lui F, Foris LA, Willner K, et al. Central vertigo. StatPearls. 2022.

  6. MdDS Foundation. What is Mal de Débarquement syndrome?

  7. Karimi-Galougahi M, Naeini AS, Raad N, Mikaniki N, Ghorbani J. Vertigo and hearing loss during the COVID-19 pandemic - is there an association? Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. December 2020;40(6):463-465. doi: 10.14639/0392-100X-N0820.

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By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN
Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse based near Cleveland, Ohio.