Dizziness is the feeling of being unsteady or lightheaded. Acute migraines tend to affect specific sensory organs, such as the eyes and ears, so they may result in fainting. This is not a disease, but rather a symptom of various conditions.
There can be a feeling of dizziness caused by vertigo and disequilibrium, but those terms describe different symptoms. When a person feels vertigo, they feel as though their world is spinning.
Other symptoms include motion sickness or leaning toward one side. A state of disequilibrium occurs when equilibrium or balance are lost. If you are dizzy, you may feel lightheaded or faint.
It isn’t uncommon to feel dizzy, and the underlying cause is rarely serious. It is not dangerous to experience occasional dizziness. If this occurs repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time should be referred to a doctor.
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What causes dizziness?
Dizziness is frequently caused by migraines, medications and alcohol. It may also be caused by a problem with the inner ear, where balance is controlled.
Vertigo can also be a reason. Vertigo related to benign positional vertigo (BPV) is the most common cause. People can experience short-term dizziness when they change positions quickly, like sitting up in bed after lying down for a while.
Meniere’s disease can also trigger dizziness and vertigo. Fluid builds up in the ear, causing tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear fullness. There is also the possibility of an acoustic neuroma causing dizziness and vertigo. There is a noncancerous tumor in the inner ear tissue that forms on the nerve.
Other dizziness reasons are:
- Low blood pressure suddenly
- Heart muscle disease
- Blood volume decreases
- Anxiety disorders
- Low iron levels (anemia)
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Ear infection
- Excessive exercise
- Motion sickness
Sometimes, dizziness causes by conditions such as multiple sclerosis, strokes, malignant tumors or other neurological conditions.
Symptoms of dizziness may include:
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Spinning on a false axis
- Loss of balance
- Swimming or floating feeling
It is possible to experience nausea, vomiting or fainting along with the disorder. When you experience any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, get immediate medical attention.
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When to call a doctor
If you experience repeated bouts of dizziness, you should see your doctor. When you suffer from sudden dizziness, make sure you also call your doctor.
- A head injury
- High fever
- Blurred vision
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty speaking
- Numbness or tingling
- Droopy eyes or lips
- Consciousness loss
- Chest pain
- Ongoing vomiting
You should seek medical care immediately if you experience these symptoms, as they could indicate a serious health threat.
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The appointment process
Diagnosing the source of dizziness and other symptoms begins with a physical examination. You’ll be asked questions about your dizziness, such as:
- When it happens
- Under what circumstances
- Intensity of symptoms
- Other symptoms of dizziness
You may also be asked to submit to an eye and ear examination, to have a neurological examination, to have your posture observed, and to have tests to measure your balance. You may be advised to undergo imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI if the cause is suspected.
Some cases do not have a cause.
Dizziness is treated by addressing the underlying cause. The cause can usually be controlled with home remedies and medical treatment. Here are a few examples:
- Inner-ear problems can be treated with medications and exercises that help control balance at home.
- BPV can be treated using maneuvers that can reduce symptoms. The option of surgery is available for patients who don’t control their blood pressure through other means.
- Occasionally, injections or surgical procedures are used to treat Meniere’s disease.
- Migraines can be managed with several medications and lifestyle modifications, including learning to identify and avoid migraine triggers.
- Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication and anxiety-reducing techniques.
- Dehydration, excessive exercise and heat are all causes of dizziness. When suffering from this condition, drink plenty of fluids.
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How to deal with dizziness
If you experience the recurrent conditions, you should follow these tips:
- You should sit down or lie down when you feel dizzy and rest until you feel better. You can avoid losing your balance and suffering serious injury by doing so.
- Using a cane or walker can provide stability.
- Whenever possible, use the handrails on the stairs.
- Try yoga and Tai Chi to improve your balance.
- Avoid switching positions or moving suddenly.
- When you experience dizziness frequently without warning, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.
- Drink no alcohol or tobacco, and don’t use caffeine. Dizziness may be triggered or made worse by these substances.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep and drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
- Consume dizziness treatment foods such as vegetables, fruits and lean proteins to avoid dizziness.
- Talk to your doctor if you think a medication is causing you dizzy. You may be able to reduce the dose or switch medication.
- Consider taking an antihistamine or meclizine (Antivert) if nausea and dizziness are concomitant. You should avoid using these medications when working or being active.
- Overheating or dehydration can cause you to feel dizzy, so rest and drink water.
When you’re concerned about the severity or frequency of your dizziness, you should speak with your doctor.
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When the underlying cause of dizziness is treated, most cases will disappear on their own. There are times when this is a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Symptoms of dizziness can be serious when they result in fainting or a loss of balance. When someone is driving a car or operating heavy machinery, this can pose a special danger. Take caution if you begin to feel dizzy. Dizziness can make you feel unsafe in the driver’s seat. Find a safe place to hold on to until it passes.