What Is Dizziness?
Dizziness is the
feeling of being lightheaded, woozy, or unbalanced. It affects the sensory
organs, specifically eyes and ears. It can cause fainting. Dizziness is not a
disease but a symptom of other disorders.
disequilibrium may cause a feeling of dizziness, but those two terms describe
different symptoms. Vertigo is characterized by a feeling of spinning. Disequilibrium
is a loss of balance or equilibrium. True dizziness is the feeling of
lightheadedness or nearly fainting.
common. The underlying cause of dizziness is usually not serious. Occasional
dizziness is nothing to worry about.
attention if you have recurring bouts of dizziness with no apparent cause. Also
seek immediate help if you experience sudden dizziness along with a head
injury, a headache, neck ache, blurred vision, hearing loss, a loss of motor
ability, a loss of consciousness, or chest pain. These could indicate serious
What Causes Dizziness?
Common causes of
dizziness include inner-ear disorders, medications, and alcohol.
often a result of vertigo. It can also be caused by a problem in the inner ear,
where balance is regulated. The most common cause of vertigo and
vertigo-related dizziness is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This causes
short-term dizziness when a person changes positions quickly—for instance, when
sitting up in bed.
vertigo can also be caused by Meniere’s disease (which causes fluid buildup in
the ear), migraine, or acoustic neuroma, a benign growth on the nerve
connecting the inner ear to the brain. Very rarely, vertigo could be caused by a
stroke, brain hemorrhage, multiple sclerosis, or another neurological disorder.
Other causes of
drop in blood pressure, as may occur upon standing suddenly
in blood volume
effect from medications
(low blood sugar)
What Are the Symptoms of Dizziness?
of floating or swimming
dizziness is accompanied by clamminess, nausea, vomiting, paleness, or losing
How Is Dizziness Diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose
dizziness and its underlying cause by performing a physical examination. He or
she will ask questions about a patient’s dizziness, including when it strikes,
in what positions, where the symptoms are located, and the severity.
The doctor may
also test a patient’s eyes and ears, observe the patient’s posture, and perform
tests to check balance. Depending on the suspected cause, a CT scan or MRI
might be recommended.
In some cases,
no cause is determined.
How Is Dizziness Treated?
dizziness focuses on the underlying cause. Often, at-home treatments, lifestyle
changes, and medication can control the cause of dizziness.
To treat BBPV, a
procedure can be performed to reposition the head. For inner-ear issues,
medications and at-home exercises can help manage balance. Meniere’s disease is
treated with diet and occasionally injections or ear surgery. Migraines are
treated with medications and lifestyle changes, such as learning to identify
and avoid migraine triggers. Medication can help with pain and nausea.
Medication is often used for anxiety disorders. Drinking plenty of fluids can
help when dizziness is caused by excessive exercise, heat, or dehydration.
alcohol, tobacco, and any substances that affect balance or trigger dizziness
should be avoided.
What Is the Outlook for Dizziness?
Most cases of
dizziness clear up on their own when the underlying
cause is treated. In rare cases, dizziness can be a sign
of a more serious health problem.
Dizziness can cause
serious complications when it causes fainting or a loss of balance. This can be
especially dangerous when a person is driving or operating heavy machinery. Use
caution if you feel a dizziness episode coming. If you become dizzy, stop
driving immediately or find a safe place to steady yourself until it passes.