Hiking With Vertigo: Overcoming Height Vertigo

hiking with vertigo

It’s a beautiful day for a hike! The sun is shining, and the birds are singing. You lace up your hiking boots, grab your water bottle, and head out into the woods. But as you start to climb, you notice something isn’t right. Your stomach starts to churn, and you feel like you’re going to faint. You have vertigo. Vertigo can be very debilitating and can make even the simplest tasks difficult. If you’re experiencing vertigo while hiking, don’t worry – there are ways to cope with it and still enjoy nature. We’ll talk about tips on hiking with vertigo and how to make the most of your outing.

First, it’s important to understand what vertigo is and how it can affect you while hiking. So let’s start there.

What Is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or moving even when standing still. A variety of things can cause it, but it often results from a problem with the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for balance, and when it’s not working properly, it can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Vertigo can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as migraines, Meniere’s disease, or strokes.

There are two types of vertigo: central and peripheral. Central vertigo is caused by problems in the brain, while problems in the inner ear cause peripheral vertigo.

If you have vertigo, hiking can be challenging. The spinning sensation can make it hard to keep your balance, and the dizziness can make it hard to focus on the trail. Vertigo can also cause nausea and vomiting, making hiking even more challenging. However, there are some things you can do to make hiking with vertigo easier. Next, we’ll address the most common form of vertigo while hiking, called height vertigo.

What Is Height Vertigo?

Height vertigo is a type of vertigo that is, as you may have guessed, caused by heights. It can occur when you are standing on a tall building or looking down from a great peak. Height vertigo can be very debilitating, and it can make it difficult to do everyday tasks, such as taking the stairs or even walking.

Height vertigo is caused by a fear of heights, or acrophobia. Acrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder that can make it difficult to do things that involve heights, such as hiking. When you have height vertigo, your brain perceives heights as dangerous, which can trigger a fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response is a natural reaction that occurs when you are in danger. It is your body’s way of preparing to fight or flee from the threat.

The fight-or-flight response can cause various symptoms, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, and shaking. These symptoms can make it difficult to focus on anything else, such as the trail ahead of you. In severe cases, height vertigo can cause you to freeze up or even faint.

Can You Hike with Vertigo?

Yes, you can hike with vertigo. However, it’s important to take precautions to make sure you stay safe and comfortable. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a level trail. Avoid hiking trails with steep inclines or declines. These can make vertigo worse and sometimes even trigger an attack. Unfortunately, you’ll have to take a backseat on those beautiful mountain vistas for now.
  • Take your time. Don’t try to push yourself too hard. If you need to take a break, find a spot to sit down or lean against a tree. And remember to drink plenty of water – dehydration can make vertigo worse.
  • Focus on your breath. Taking deep, slow breaths can help ease vertigo symptoms.
  • Take breaks often. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, take a break. Sit down, drink some water, and rest for a few minutes.
  • Climb slowly. If you’re going uphill, take your time. Avoid sudden movements, which can make vertigo worse.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Make sure your shoes are well-fitting and provide good support. This will help you keep your balance.
  • Bring trekking poles. Trekking poles can help you keep your balance and can be a lifesaver if you start to feel dizzy. I recommend the Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles. They are durable, sturdy, and affordable.
  • Bring a hiking buddy. It’s always best to hike with someone else, but it’s vital if you have vertigo. They can help you if you start to feel dizzy or unsteady.

Vertigo can make hiking difficult, but it doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the outdoors. By following

Can Hiking Cause Vertigo?

There is no definitive answer, as a variety of things can cause the onset of vertigo symptoms.

However, some experts believe that hiking can exacerbate vertigo symptoms, particularly if the trail is steep or has sudden inclines or declines. If you have vertigo, it’s essential to take precautions when hiking, such as choosing a level trail and taking breaks often.

Is It Vertigo or A Fear of Heights?

Many people fear heights, but this fear is more than just a simple phobia for some. It can be sometimes debilitating and often confused with vertigo. So, what’s the difference?

A fear of heights is exactly what it sounds like – fear or anxiety of being in high places. This can range from feeling uneasy on a tall building to an outright panic attack at the top of a Ferris wheel. And when it comes to hiking – Fear of hiking downhill is more common than you’d probably expect. However, the fear is so severe for some people that it can even extend to objects that are not inherently high off the ground, such as bridges or escalators.

On the other hand, vertigo is a type of dizziness caused by a specific medical condition. It is typically the result of a problem with the inner ear and can cause a sensation of spinning or whirling. People with vertigo may also feel nauseous and vomit. In some cases, vertigo can be so severe that it leads to falls and injuries.

So, how can you tell the difference between a fear of heights and vertigo? If you experience dizziness, nausea, or vomiting when you are in high places, it is likely that you

Vertigo vs Fear of Heights: In-Depth Comparison

  • If you have vertigo, you may feel like you or your surroundings are spinning. You may also feel nauseous and vomit. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded with a fear of heights, but you will not actually feel like you are spinning.
  • Vertigo is often accompanied by ringing in the ears, whereas fear of heights is not.
  • Vertigo can last for a few seconds or up to several minutes, while fear of heights can be a lifelong ailment unless treated.
  • Vertigo is often triggered by specific things, such as changing positions quickly, looking down from a great height, or moving your head in a certain way. A fear of heights may be triggered by simply being in a high place or looking down from a peak while hiking.
  • If you think you may be suffering from vertigo, it’s essential to see a doctor so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Why Do I Feel Dizzy when Hiking?

Feeling dizzy while hiking isn’t always related to vertigo. In some cases, it may be caused by dehydration or heat exhaustion. It’s important to stay hydrated while hiking, especially in hot weather. Drink plenty of water and take breaks often to rest in the shade if you start to feel dizzy.

Altitude sickness is another potential cause of dizziness while hiking. This is more common at high altitudes, such as when hiking in the mountains. If you start to feel dizzy, short of breath, or have a headache, it’s essential to descend to a lower altitude as safely as possible.


If you live with vertigo, know that you are not alone. Many people experience this condition, and there are ways to manage it so that you can enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. With a few precautions in place, you can hike safely and confidently. Remember, always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Have you ever gone hiking or done another activity while dealing with vertigo? Share your story in the comments below!

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