This blog lists common vertigo triggers that you may want to note and share with your healthcare provider if they are affecting you.

Sleeping Positions

Certain sleeping positions may be vertigo triggers. Are you having to sleep upright to avoid vertigo?

Perhaps lying down in bed with your head in a certain position such as lying on your right side, on your left side, or lying on your back causes vertigo?

I suggest you make a note of which sleeping positions are vertigo triggers.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting for you to test yourself by trying any of the following vertigo triggers or positions I share below!

The reason I share all of the following examples is to help you think through what may be triggering your symptoms, or what activities you are avoiding so that you can share that with your healthcare provider to demonstrate how this is affecting your quality of life, how this is limiting your participation in society, and to help them direct their exam.

Motion-Activated Vertigo Triggers

Are you having symptoms with these specific triggering positions as you go about your day?

  • Walking and looking back?
  • Quick turns?
  • Reaching up and looking up to the left?
  • Reaching up and looking up to the right?
  • Reaching straight up and looking up?
  • Bending down?
  • Getting up quickly?
  • Leaning forward at your waist and turning to look up to the left?
  • Leaning forward at your waist and turning to look up to the right?

Note: If you’re having symptoms looking up, be specific about whether your head is tilted backward, or your eyes are just looking up with your head level. Those are two different distinct symptoms.

Are any of the following movements vertigo triggers?

  • looking to the left and tilting your head down
  • looking to the right and tilting your head down
  • bending over quickly and standing up quickly
  • bending forward at your waist with your head turned to the right
  • bending forward at your waist with your head turned to the left
  • bending forward for a prolonged period of time and then standing up


Triggers during Normal Activities of Daily Life or Work

Normal activities of daily living or activities you have to do for work may be vertigo triggers. If certain activities are causing you to feel discomfort, or if you are having to avoid them to prevent triggering dizziness or vertigo, then I suggest you make a note to tell your provider. Some examples of activities that may be vertigo triggers include:

  • emptying the lower rack of the dishwasher
  • reaching into the back of the dryer
  • hanging clothes on a clothesline
  • leaning down and looking to the side to clean underneath a table, for example
  • looking under the bed
  • fixing the pipes under the sink
  • painting the ceiling
  • picking up after your dog
  • cleaning up toys or clutter on the floor


Exercise-Related Vertigo Triggers

Make a note of any certain exercises that are vertigo triggers, such as:

  • lying flat on your exercise mat or weight bench
  • rolling side to side on a mat
  • reaching or turning to one side to stretch out while lying down
  • walking up or down stairs or curbs
  • walking up or down ramps or inclines
  • certain exercises where you are looking upwards at your top hand, such as a side plank
  • rolling out your upper back on a foam roller and dropping your head backwards
  • abdominal crunches with the rotation of the chest and shoulders


For example, one of my patients told me that one of her vertigo triggers was whenever she rotated to the left during abdominal crunches with a twist. That what preceded her feeling of dizziness. That gave me a lot of valuable information for her exam!

Driving, Riding, Flying, and Walking

Other common vertigo triggers of symptoms that may be useful to share include:

  • driving on switchbacks or mountain passes
  • riding in the car
  • riding backward on a train
  • while flying on a plane
  • after traveling on a plane
  • walking on a moving platform, such as in the airport
  • walking in the dark
  • walking on an uneven surface
  • walking on the beach
  • riding amusement park rides (especially if you used to be ok with it!)

Visual Triggers

If the waves are crashing while you walk along the beach, there is a lot of movement in your peripheral vision. Does that make you feel your symptoms?

Is walking through a supermarket triggering symptoms for you?

Other vertigo triggers could be complex, busy environments or things moving within your visual field.

Visual vertigo triggers include:

  • watching a ceiling fan spin
  • looking at any spinning fan
  • the ticker scrolling horizontally across the bottom of the television screen if you are watching the news
  • the film credits that roll at the end of a movie
  • scrolling vertically on your phone, tablet, or computer, such as quickly skimming through an article
  • scrolling through social media posts on your phone
  • driving and checking your blind spot over your shoulder
  • sitting in a car during heavy, slow moving traffic
  • waves crashing at the beach
  • supermarket or other big box store

Are any of these or other visual experiences triggering your symptoms?

Is your vision getting blurry or wavy when you turn your head quickly?

Food Triggers

Do you get dizzy spells after certain foods? Certain food triggers are known to set off vestibular migraines or Meniere’s episodes. Other foods may promote inflammation.

If you notice certain foods are causing dizziness or vertigo, I suggest you add that to your list of vertigo triggers.

For more on the connection between the Gut and Vertigo, check out this blog.

Track Symptom Onset, Trigger, and Duration

In your summary for your healthcare providers, you should include your vertigo triggers, with specifics about onset, and how long it lasts.

Your diagnosis and treatment will be easier to work through if you can provide very specific information about your symptom onset, duration, and trigger(s).

Some people become obsessed with tracking their vertigo triggers. That is not healthy and causes anxiety.

I suggest for you to track your symptoms and work closely with your Vertigo Expert to reduce or resolve the symptoms.


This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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