Imbalance, Vertigo, Dizziness - Different types of vestibular symptoms

How would you describe imbalance? For me, it’s like I have small inner swaying and like my mind and my body aren’t on synch (if I move my head to the right I feel like my head takes time to catch up!)

However, classic ‘dizziness’, aka feel myself spinning – never had that.

The different symptoms are listed in the User Support Wiki

People have different ways of using the terms, but strictly I believe they should be as follows:

Imbalance is a feeling of unsteadiness. Sometimes one leg feels heavier than the other or less sure. You feel off-balance, lob-sided.

Dizziness is a fuzzy non-specific feeling of lack of surety of where you are in space. It is not a spinning sensation.

Spinning is as its name suggests, a feeling of going round and round.

Vertigo can be a spinning sensation, but also a fast, anxious, falling sensation or quick ‘whoosh’ feeling.

Then you can get all sorts of other sensations, like you say rocking/swaying, see the link above.

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Yes, sounds very similar to me and many others on here. It really gets the health anxiety going because you wonder if maybe there is something wrong with eyesight.

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Imbalance I would describe as unsteadiness, a sense of unsteadiness when walking or standing as opposed to UNbalanced which always seems to me to be a feeling of exaggerated movement where limbs appear to be moving farther than they actually are.

Disequilibrium is much like Imbalance but perhaps includes a feeling that you are about to fall and is generally associated with loss of spatial awareness.

Vertigo - ‘Spinning’. has to be rotary. It is a false perception of movement either of self subjective vertigo or surroundings objective vertigo. So it can be either internal or external.

Lightheadedness (Presyncope) feeling as if you might pass out.

Dizziness is vague, general term. Definitely non rotational. And unfortunately often linked by association with anxiety and mental issues.

Sounds to me what you are experiencing could be internal vertigo but difficult to tell. With MAV self movement, moving your head, will trigger symptoms. That’s common.

As people’s interpretations of all of the above varies so much a good specialist will spend time establishing exactly what the sufferer really means because that will then help them with diagnosis. Helen


I love the one “if I move my head to the right I feel like my head takes time to catch up” That is me to a tee and pain in my neck and behind my ears and pressure in my head. In addition sometimes thinks jump around and spin.


Quite a useful article I thought. Helen

Guys, after I walk for a bit, my brain seems to believe the world or ground is also moving or rising up (like in an earthquake!). And after I sit down I of course feel like I’m on a boat. Has anyone felt this? It’s a bit scary. The sensation of the ground ‘quaking’ is rly off putting.

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Yes I have felt the ground or the road is on the wrong angle and closer to me than it should be. It causes me to feel like every little detail, colour, light is overwhelming me at once and my vision seems very off. Amitriptiline has helped alot and I also used to get what I called ‘brain wobbles’ particularly if I walked into one room with different fluorescent lighting to the one I just stepped out of, my brain would feel like it wobbled a bit (probably wobbly vision) until it adjusted. Also looking at a hill or trees going up a hill, I had no spatial awareness and couldn’t see it properly. Wow and all that sounds so crazy! Mine really affects my vision and spatial awareness and an internal dizziness. Like i said though Amitriptiline has helped alot, its not totally gone but the neurologist thinks it will take 12 months

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P.S About 10 years ago I had a migraine with aura and for 7 days after it I felt like I was on a boat! It went away though, but this latest problem has been hard to shift

Not to me it doesn’t. The ‘brain wobbles’ are result of photophobia from MAV which is causing adjustment delays in changing light. Loss of 3D vision is a main cause of Visual Vertigo and without proper 3D vision you lack spatial awareness. Ami has a great reputation for all this stuff. Helen


The ground shifting and the ‘being on a boat’ feeling are both strong indications of balance issues. They are common amongst MAVers. Helen


It’s so nice to talk with people who understand this insanity! I remember when it first hit me it was so bad that as I was looking down at my dogs ear, it had no proper depth just looked flat. So weird! My dogs ears look normal now, so that’s progress!

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To me vertigo is the room or the surroundings spinning. Everything else is dizziness.

So you don’t experience the constant rotary ‘internal’ vertigo where you feel the environment is steady but you are constantly on the move? That’s what the medics call ‘subjective vertigo’. I had that 24/7 from December 2014 until Spring 2018. Helen

If you mean like rocking, yes i do.

No, not rocking. That, to me, is backwards n forwards. Round n round I went. The first week anti-clockwise then constantly clockwise. The feeling I was rotating.

Does it feel like there’s a small tornado inside you (albeit much slower?)

Cannot compare it to an unknown I’m afraid. Tornadoes are extremely rare in UK and very much smaller when they do appear. Nearest I’ve ever got so far is a photo. I wonder whether perhaps such a description is a bit too emotive. It was relentless and felt as if I was constantly rotating. Rather like I was doing the Hoolay Hoop all the time without the hoop. Yep that’s how it felt. I remember trying to watch my own reflection to see if the motion was discernible but of course it wasn’t cos it’s internal. Helen

Helen, and everyone else:

When I close my eyes and do VRT excursuses, I legit feel like the ground beneath my feet is dropping, or rising. I can feel as if I am moving and as if someone is pushing my head down-- is this normal of mAV? Has anyone else felt this?

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In the order I’d plumb for them.

(a) Your brain uses your eyes for balance more than a person without this condition then you shut your eyes and your brain says …?? Am I supposed to do now?
(b). VRT bod told me once you start VRT to ‘expect anything to happen’ and she wasn’t far wrong.
(c) With VRT your brain is supposedly finding new neural pathways. That will not necessarily happen without you noticing. Helen