Dizziness is the feeling of lightheadedness, spinning head woozy, or unbalanced. It affects the sensory organs, particularly the eyes and ears, so it can sometimes cause fainting. Dizziness is not a disease, but rather a symptom of various complications.
Vertigo and disequilibrium may lead to a feeling of dizziness, but those two terms describe different symptoms. Vertigo is a sensation spinning dizziness , like every thing is moving.
It may also feel like motion sickness or as if you’re leaning to one side. Disequilibrium is a loss of balance or equilibrium. True dizziness is the feeling of lightheadedness or about to fainting.
Dizziness is common and its primary cause usually is not serious. Infrequent dizziness is not something to be concerned about. However, you should call your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing recurring episodes of dizziness for no evident reason or for a long period of time.
Causes of dizziness
Common reasons behind dizziness are : migraine, medications, and alcohol. It can also occur due to a problem in the inner ear, where balance is controlled.
Dizziness is usually a result of vertigo as well. The most common cause of vertigo and vertigo-associated dizziness is benign positional vertigo (BPV). This leads to short-term dizziness when someone changes positions suddenly, such as sitting up in bed after lying down.
Dizziness and vertigo can also be stimulated by Meniere’s disease. This causes fluid to accumulate in the ear with related ear fullness, hearing loss, and tinnitus. Another feasible cause for dizziness and vertigo is an acoustic neuroma. This is a noncancerous tumor that develops on the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
Some other likely causes of dizziness include:
- sudden lowering of blood pressure
- heart muscle disease
- reduction in blood volume
- anxiety disorders
- anemia (low iron)
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- ear infection
- heat stroke
- excessive exercise
- motion sickness
In rare cases, dizziness could be caused by multiple sclerosis, a stroke, a malignant tumor, or another brain disorder.
Symptoms of dizziness
People feeling dizziness may feel various sensations, such as:
- feeling lightheaded or fainted
- a false sense of spinning
- loss of balance
- feeling of floating or swimming
Sometimes, dizziness is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or fainting. Go for urgent medical help if you have these symptoms for large periods of time.
When to call a doctor about dizziness
You should visit your doctor if you continue to have repeated bouts of dizziness. You should also tell your doctor urgently if you feel sudden dizziness along with:
- a head injury
- a headache
- a neck pain
- a high temperature
- blurred vision
- hearing loss
- trouble speaking
- numbness or tingling sensation
- droopiness of the eye or mouth
- loss of consciousness
- chest pain
- ongoing vomiting
These symptoms could show a severe health complications, so it’s necessary to go for medical attention immediately.
If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
What to expect during your appointment
Your doctor can control the cause of dizziness and any other symptoms by doing a physical examination. They’ll ask you some questions related to your dizziness, including:
- time of occurance
- in what situations
- seriousness of symptoms
- other symptoms that happen with the dizziness
Your doctor may also check your eyes and ears, perform a neurological physical exam, observe your posture, and perform tests to check balance. Depending on the doubted cause, an imaging test like a CT scan or MRI might be suggested for better visualization.
In some cases, no cause for dizziness is find out.
Treatments for dizziness
Treatment for dizziness targets on its fundamental cause. In most of the cases, home remedies and medical treatments can control the cause of dizziness. For example:
- Inner-ear problems may be controlled with medications and at-home exercises that can help regulate balance.
- BPV can be cured with maneuvers that can help relieve symptoms. Surgery is an option for patients whose BPV is not controlled by other methods.
- Meniere’s disease is treated with a healthy low-salt diet, sometimes taking injections, or ear surgery.
- Migraines are treated with medications and lifestyle changes, such as learning to find out and avoid migraine triggers.
- Medication and anxiety-decreasing methods can help with anxiety disorders.
- Drinking lots of fluids can help when dizziness is caused by intense exercise, heat, or dehydration.
What you can do about dizziness
Follow these steps if you have repeating bouts of dizziness:
- Sit or lie down quickly when you feel dizzy and rest until the dizziness subsides. This can prevent the possibility of losing your balance, which may cause falling and severe injury.
- Use a cane or walker for stability, if required.
- Always use handrails when walking up or down the stairs.
- Do activities that improve balance, such as yoga and Tai Chi.
- Avoid moving or switching positions suddenly.
- Avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery if you frequently feel dizziness without warning.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Using these substances may activate dizziness or worsen it.
- Drink minimum eight glass of water per day, get seven hours or more of sleep, and avoid stressful conditions.
- Eat a healthy diet that have green leafy vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins to help control dizziness.
- If you suspect your dizziness is being caused by a medication, consult with your doctor about reducing the dose or switching to another medication.
- Take an over-the-counter medication, such as meclizine (Antivert) or an antihistamine, if you feel nausea along with dizziness. These medications may lead to drowsiness, so don’t use them when you need to be active or productive.
- Rest in a cool place and drink water if your dizziness is being caused by overheating or dehydration.
Always consult with your doctor if you’re worried about the frequency or seriousness of your dizziness.
Outlook for dizziness
Most cases of dizziness subsides on their own once the fundamental cause is treated. In rare cases, dizziness can be a sign of a more severe health issues.
Dizziness may lead to complications when it causes fainting or a loss of balance. This can be particularly dangerous when a person is driving or operating heavy machinery.Be careful if you experience an episode of dizziness coming on. If you become dizzy, stop driving quickly or find a safe place to steady yourself until it subsides.