About Balance, Dizziness & Vestibular Disorders

The Human Balance System: A Complex Coordination of Central and Peripheral Systems

How the balance system uses sensory input from the eyes, muscles and joints, and inner ear to maintain balance and stable vision.

Peripheral Vestibular System

The vestibular system can be divided into two main systems: the central system (the brain and brainstem) and the peripheral system (the inner ear and the pathways to the brainstem). This publication discusses the peripheral vestibular system in depth.


One of the distinctions that may need to be made is if the dizziness the patient is reporting is coming from the peripheral vestibular system (the labyrinth of the inner ear, and the pathways/nerves connecting to the brainstem) or the central vestibular system (the brain and brainstem).

Ear Anatomy

Gives a brief overview of the anatomy of the ear and how it controls balance. Includes a glossary of terms and a diagram of the ear.


Vertigo, dizziness, and disequilibrium are defined; common causes are explained. Click here to download a 1-page summary of “Causes of Dizziness.”


Describes the function of the vestibular system and symptoms and causes of damage to it; defines specific types of vestibular disorders; and reviews common diagnostic tests and treatments. (Download Vestibular Disorders: An Overview 1-page flier.)

Vestibular Injury: Compensation, Decompensation, and Failure to Compensate

An explanation of how the balance system recovers from injury through the compensation process; acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) compensation; causes of decompensation and failure to compensate; use of medication and vestibular rehabilitation therapy.

How Do I Know If I Have a Vestibular Disorder?

Describes the difference between dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium. Suggests questions a person might ask to help him or her decide whether to seek medical help for a balance problem or dizzy spell.

Possible Symptoms of a Vestibular Disorder

A quick reference for possible symptoms associated with inner ear balance disorders, including balance, vision, hearing, and cognitive issues.

“Feeling Dizzy?” Infographic (pdf) (jpg)

feeling dizzy infographic