Vertigo in Children

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Vertigo (VER ti go) is the medical word for the feeling of spinning. Your child may feel like the world is moving, but there is no movement. These feelings come and go. They may last for seconds or for days. Your child may feel worse when changing positions, standing, rolling over, coughing, or sneezing. Vertigo can be caused by a problem inside the ear.

Vertigo is not contagious. You cannot get it from another person or give it to someone else.

Signs and Symptoms

You may see your child do some of the following:

  • Jerky eye movements
  • Tilting of the head
  • Swaying
  • Trouble walking straight
  • Pulling to one direction
  • Rocking
  • Falling

Your child may feel some of the following:

  • Spinning feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Motion sickness
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Ear pain or fullness or pressure in the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Sweating


There is no specific test for diagnosing vertigo. The tests that the doctor will do will depend on your child’s signs and symptoms.


Treatment for vertigo depends upon what is causing it. Most often, vertigo goes away without treatment. This is because the brain is able to adjust to changes in the inner ear.

Treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy exercises to improve balance. The physical therapist may teach your child special head and body movements.
  • Medicine to relieve symptoms of nausea and motion sickness.
  • Antibiotic medicine to treat inner ear infections.
  • Steroid medicine to decrease swelling.
  • Water pills to reduce the amount of fluid in the inner ear.

When to Get Emergency Care

  • Sudden change in speech
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Head injury from a fall
  • Repeat episodes of falling
  • Continued vomiting

When to Call the Doctor

  • If your child falls a lot
  • If your child faints
  • If the symptoms of vertigo keep your child from doing everyday activities
  • If you have any questions about vertigo

Harm Prevention and Symptom Control

To avoid getting hurt during an episode of vertigo, your child should not drive or use machines. Activities that involve climbing or hiking should also be avoided.

To prevent the symptoms from getting worse, your child should avoid sudden movement and changes in position. It is important to change positions slowly.

Vertigo in Children (PDF)

HH-I-385 6/15 Copyright 2015, Nationwide Children’s Hospital