Alcoholism and Vertigo

Published On: June 14, 2023

Vertigo is a specific symptom rather than a condition or a disorder within itself.

When an individual experiences vertigo, they may experience feelings of the environment around them spinning, severe dizziness, and sometimes associated feelings of nausea.

Vertigo can occur in episodes lasting anywhere from a few seconds to months in severe cases.

Without the effects of alcohol, there are many reasons why an individual may develop vertigo.

The most common of these are listed below:

  • Presence of an ear infection
  • Inflammation within specific nerves in the ear, e.g., the vestibular nerve
  • Inner ear conditions (often rare and sometimes occur with tinnitus)
  • Migraines as a side effect of some medications

However, the effects of vertigo are often worsened or developed as a result of heavy drinking or increased consumption of alcohol.

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 for more help.

The Effects of Overindulgence in Alcohol

A group of people saying cheers with various drinks

When individuals consume large amounts of alcohol, they may experience general feelings of dizziness and incoordination.

Generally, these symptoms are experienced as a result of loss of motor skills, as well as the changes in perception that an individual may experience as a result of heavy drinking.

In addition, individuals under the influence of a large quantity of alcohol may experience other effects, such as memory loss, aggression, irritability, vomiting, and violence, in some cases.

These effects vary from individual to individual, as well as other factors such as the amount consumed, the individual’s metabolism, and factors such as the environment and the mood in which the individual was in.

In any case, an individual who overindulges in alcohol should seek help as soon as they feel that anything may be different or wrong. Overindulgence can have serious consequences, especially concerning the individual’s health and safety.

In addition, the effects of an alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be both long-term and severe.

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Vertigo

Double-vision view of a taxi

Due to the symptoms of vertigo, such as dizziness and a loss of perception, some of the effects of alcohol can also add to this.

This worsens the effects of both vertigo and the effects of alcohol.

In these cases, individuals may experience feelings of severe dizziness, resulting in difficulties in standing and possibly falling over.

In addition, individuals may also experience nausea or the feeling of needing to throw up. This is also increased with the consumption, which, if consumed in large quantities, can cause further feelings of nausea as the body prepares to expel alcohol.

Alcohol can also have a wide range of effects on more specific areas of the body, such as the inner ear and specific areas in the brain.

The effects already mentioned are also gone into more detail in the following paragraphs, outlining how alcohol may influence them or be similar in the effects, therefore worsening the severity of these effects.

1. How Alcohol Affects the Inner Ear

The inner ear is one of the most important areas of the body that affects vertigo and the severity to which someone may experience this.

Within the inner ear, many different components are affected by alcohol, most notably the fluid within the ear that acts as a balancing indication.

When an individual consumes alcohol, they may begin to experience dehydration through a range of different mechanisms (1).

Through this effect, the fluid within the inner ear may be affected, decreasing in quantity and therefore incorrectly signalling the brain to indicate the individual’s balance.

Because of this, individuals will begin to feel off-balance, perhaps staggering as they walk or requiring someone or something to lean on as they move.

This can be dangerous in many situations, as the individual may not always have someone to help them navigate their route after consuming large quantities of alcohol, leading to accidents that could cause the individual increased risk to themselves and those around them.

2. How Alcohol Affects the Brain


The brain is the extremely complex processing centre within the body, meaning that it has countless signals transmitting within it from all around the body every second.

Because of this large frequency of transmissions occurring, the addition of alcohol can seriously impact the body’s process and the ability to carry out even basic bodily processes.

Alcohol affects this transmission by interrupting the transmissions, disrupting essential communications within the brain, and causing slower or lack of neurotransmission (2).

This may affect the feeling of vertigo as the individual may begin to experience difficulties in perception, motor skills, and general movement around their environment.

All of these effects influence the likelihood of an individual experiencing vertigo, especially when alcohol is consumed in large quantities. Additionally, any individual who consumes large quantities of alcohol regularly is far more likely to experience these effects on a longer-term basis or more commonly than individuals who do not consume alcohol regularly.

3. Alcohol and Dizziness

Although dizziness is an effect that results from a combination of the above factors, it is still an effect on its own, nonetheless.

Specifically, these feelings of dizziness result as alcohol dehydrates the body, changing the levels of fluid in the inner ear and therefore confusing the brain with incorrect signals.

This dizziness not only affects the individual when they are walking but also affects the individual when they are driving. This is why it is not recommended not to drink alcohol, as the feelings of vertigo, combined with the changes in perception, can seriously impact an individual’s ability to drive safely for themselves and those around them. 

If an individual begins to experience severe dizziness as a result of heavy drinking, they must seek assistance as soon as possible. In addition, these individuals can also try sitting down, perhaps in a dark room, if this helps them stabilise themselves.

4. Alcohol & Hearing Loss

Woman looking sad

Although not an effect that many individuals would consider to be a consequence of long-term and heavy alcohol consumption, hearing loss is a common effect among those who often drink heavily, including those struggling with alcohol addiction.

Though this is heavily debated whether it is the alcohol itself that causes this hearing loss or whether it is the environmental factors during which someone may consume alcohol that may cause this deficiency (3).

Alcohol may cause hearing loss directly due to the factors previously mentioned. For example, if the level of fluid in the ear is constantly changing as a result of alcohol-caused dehydration, then this may cause other issues within the other areas of the inner ear that are responsible for hearing.

For example, the small hairs within the inner ear are responsible for passing on the vibrations of sound – an area that may be affected by ongoing and heavy/binge drinking.

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 for more help.

Side Effects of Alcohol Use and Vertigo

WOMAN lead down holding belly in pain

As a result of the combined effects of vertigo and alcohol consumption, an individual may experience a wide range of adverse effects, some of which can be especially risky in specific situations.

The most common of these are listed below:

  • Unsteady walking/difficulty getting around
  • Falling over
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Throwing up
  • Lethargy
  • Walking into objects in the environment around the individual
  • Memory loss

Most of the factors above could be dangerous in specific situations, though the dangers of some effects, such as falling over, can be especially dangerous to the individual around them.

For example, someone who lives near a river and is walking home after a heavy drinking session may find themselves in danger if they experience severe vertigo. 

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 for more help.

Drinking and Brain Health


In general, alcohol has many adverse effects when consumed in large quantities over a long period.

This is due to the physically addictive nature of alcohol, meaning that it becomes directly involved in some of the processes in the brain, causing long-term issues and the constant desire to consume further alcohol.

One of the most important neural processes that alcohol affects is the production and regulation of serotonin. This is an essential hormone within the brain, responsible for areas such as emotion regulation, anxiety, and pleasure.

With the control of serotonin affected by alcohol, the individual will need to continue consuming the same quantity or more of alcohol to ‘feel normal’, creating a vicious cycle of addiction that can only be broken with the process of detoxification.

This in itself is risky for the individual, especially if they have been consuming large quantities of alcohol over a long period. This is why it is always recommended to undergo a medically assisted detox when it comes to alcohol addiction. 

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 for more help.

Signs That Someone Has a Drinking Problem

Alcohol addiction

Often, individuals who are struggling with an alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) become secretive when confronting their addictive behaviours, leading to difficulties in detecting or confronting an individual about their possible addiction.

However, there are some signs and symptoms that those around an individual can look out for when trying to tell if someone they know may be struggling with alcohol addiction.

Though these may not be evident across all individuals (additionally, they may not be signs of alcohol addiction), they are some of the most common and easiest signs to look out for.

1. Irritability

Irritability refers to the individual becoming agitated or offended when confronted about their alcohol consumption.

This may occur as a result of the secretive behaviours that they are trying to uphold, but it may also be the result of the individual’s denial.

This is a common phenomenon when it comes to addiction, as individuals are often embarrassed about or unwilling to confront their current situation.

Denial often leads to irritability when confronted about a potential addiction, as the individual may not want to discuss the current situation, leading to additional stress and difficulties when it comes to severe effects and the possibility of entering rehabilitation in the future.

2. Unstable Mood

Individuals who drink large quantities of alcohol can display it in many ways, but this is often widely varied from one individual to another, meaning that detecting whether or not a behaviour change may be a side effect of alcoholism is incredibly difficult.

However, individuals who consume large quantities of alcohol are often reported to be unpredictable or unstable in their mood. 

This can mean that one moment an individual may appear to be having a great time, perhaps on a night out, but the next moment they may become very aggressive or paranoid, leading to social issues and/or increased risk of crime etc.

If an individual behaves unpredictably while under the influence of alcohol, then this may be an indicator that they are abusing alcohol. Serious or more long-term issues can result from this, leading to additional issues in the future.

3. Smell of Alcohol

Although it may seem simple, detecting whether or not someone smells like alcohol can also be an indicator that an individual is abusing alcohol.

If they seem to smell like alcohol regularly or at times when alcohol consumption may not be suitable, e.g., in the mornings, around young family members, then they may be struggling with alcohol addiction and therefore consuming alcohol regularly or often enough to make others notice.

In all cases, these individuals should be approached respectfully and open-mindedly – there is no use in confronting an individual harshly, perhaps risking worsening their behaviour in the long term and decreasing their desire to seek help.

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 for more help.

How the Addiction Treatment Process Works

At home support

Through residential rehabilitation with Rehab 4 Alcoholism, individuals will progress through the following three stages:

  • Detoxification – The process of removing harmful chemicals and toxins that have accumulated as a result of long-term addiction. This process will slowly transition the individual from their previous addictive behaviours to a sober life, slowly reducing the dosage of alcohol over time to reduce the risks and dangers to the individual.
  • Rehabilitation/Therapy – This is where the individual will take part in their addiction treatment plan. This can include a range of therapies, group activities, and holistic treatments that are specialised to their individual needs and requirements. This allows for the most efficient and effective recovery in each case.
  • Aftercare – No individual is ever left alone after leaving any form of rehabilitative programme. After completing the bulk of their addiction treatment, individuals will still have access to addiction support officers, further rehabilitative learning, and individual goal-achieving.

Getting Professional Help for Alcohol Addiction

Close up of two people in sweaters holding coffee mugs, face to face at a table

To see how Rehab 4 Alcoholism can advise you on alcohol’s effect on vertigo, alcohol addiction, or rehabilitation in general, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our friendly and professional team.

Our team is trained to handle all calls with confidentiality, providing free advice to those who need it most and referring individuals to the help they need as soon as possible.

Call our addiction support line on 0800 111 4108 today to see how we can help you or someone you know.


[1] Roberts, K.E., 1963. Mechanism of dehydration following alcohol ingestion. Archives of internal medicine, 112(2), pp.154-157.

[2] Valenzuela, C.F., 1997. Alcohol and neurotransmitter interactions. Alcohol Health and research world, 21(2), p.144.

[3] Gopinath, B., Flood, V.M., McMahon, C.M., Burlutsky, G., Smith, W. and Mitchell, P., 2010. The effects of smoking and alcohol consumption on age-related hearing loss: the Blue Mountains Hearing Study. Ear and hearing, 31(2), pp.277-282.


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