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slug Created with Sketch. Science Questions

Why do heights make us dizzy?

Many scientists who study this sensation of “height vertigo” think that it’s about balance.

Three systems in the body work to balance us: the eyes, sensors in the feet and legs, and sensors in the inner ear. When the signals the brain gets from these systems “agree,” we feel balanced.

But sometimes the signals conflict. As we stand up high, our eyes can’t report the ground’s position accurately. When the brain can’t match up signals from the different systems, it has trouble knowing which information to trust. As a result, we may feel dizzy and disoriented.

Art by: Josh Cleland

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