What is vertigo? Lewis Capaldi shares 'spinning' symptoms that made him 'think he was dying'

Lewis Capaldi, who has opened up about vertigo. (Getty Images)
Lewis Capaldi had a health scare while suffering from vertigo symptoms. (Getty Images)

Lewis Capaldi has admitted he thought he was "dying for a couple days" while unknowingly experiencing vertigo.

The singer, 26, shared with his fans that he's "not been very well" while at Glasgow's Everyman Cinema on Thursday for a screening of his upcoming documentary How I'm Feeling Now.

Addressing the crowd, he said, "I'm alive and living. I've not been very well. I've got vertigo," Mail Online reports.

"So I'm spinning but I'm smiling. I'm not dying so it's good. I did think I was for a couple of days but luckily I'm here."

This comes after the star announced last September that he had Tourette's syndrome.

But what exactly is vertigo, what can cause it, and the type of 'spinning' described by Capaldi?

Read more: As Lewis Capaldi fans step in to sing lyrics after he has Tourette's tics on stage – signs and symptoms of condition

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is a symptom, rather than a condition itself.

It might feel like you or everything around you is spinning, according to the NHS. This might hardly be noticeable, or so severe you find it difficult to keep your balance and do everyday activities.

'Attacks' of vertigo can come on very quickly, lasting just for a few seconds or for much longer.

Interestingly, it is commonly incorrectly associated with a fear of heights. The medical term for the type of dizziness that occurs from looking down from a high place is actually called acrophobia.

Vertigo dizzynes
The symptoms associated with vertigo are not the same as dizziness from a fear of heights. (Getty Images)

What are vertigo symptoms?

As well as having the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning you may also experience:

  • loss of balance – which can make it difficult to stand or walk

  • feeling sick or being sick

  • dizziness

If you have severe vertigo, symptoms may be constant and last for multiple days, which can make normal life challenging.

What causes vertigo?

Vertigo is usually caused by an issue in the way balance works inside the ear, though it can also be due to problems in certain parts of the brain.

Some causes may include:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): Where certain head movements trigger vertigo

  • Migraines: Severe headaches

  • Labyrinthitis: An inner ear infection

  • Vestibular Neuronitis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which runs into the inner ear and sends messages to the brain that help to control balance

Depending on the cause, other additional symptoms may include a high temperature, ringing in your ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.

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Doctor discussing with man over digital tablet. Young male is visiting healthcare worker in clinic. They are sitting at desk.
Speak to your doctor to help determine the cause of your vertigo, and the appropriate action to take. (Getty Images)

How to treat vertigo

Depending on the cause of your vertigo, there may be self-help methods worth trying to relieve the symptoms. Your GP may advise you to follow basic lifestyle do's and don'ts, including:

  • do simple exercises to correct symptoms

  • sleep with your head slightly raised on two or more pillows

  • get up slowly when getting out of bed and sit on the edge of the bed for a minute or so before standing

  • avoid bending down to pick up items

  • avoid extending your neck

  • move your head carefully and slowly during daily activities

  • do exercises that trigger your vertigo, so your brain gets used to it and reduces the symptoms (do these only after making sure you won't fall, and have support if needed)

Read more: Epilepsy myths debunked as study reveals most Brits still believe misconceptions about the condition

Vertigo treatment

While some cases of vertigo will improve over time naturally, some who have repeated episodes over a long period of time may need additional treatment.

While this depends on the cause, options may include simple head movements (known as the Epley manoeuvre), medicines like prochlorperazine and some antihistamines, or vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT), which is a series of exercises for people with dizziness and balance problems.

If you have persistent signs of vertigo or it keeps returning, see your GP. They will be able to examine you, help determine the cause, and refer you for further tests if needed.

Watch: George Ezra cancels O2 gig at last minute due to 'acute vertigo'