Dizziness may cause you to feel light-headed or weak. You may feel like you are going to faint. Dizziness can happen for a short period of time or be a long-lasting condition that gets in the way of your daily activities. It is different than vertigo, which is a feeling that the room is spinning or rotating while you are still.
Many conditions can cause dizziness such as:
Prescription medications can also cause dizziness. These may include:
- angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Blood Flow to the Brain
In some cases, dizziness may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
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Dizziness is a symptom that may be caused by another condition. There are no risk factors for dizziness.
Symptoms depend on the type of dizziness you have. Common symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Vision or hearing problems
- Heart palpitations
Call your doctor if you:
- Are having episodes of dizziness, especially if they are happening more often or are worse in intensity
- Have signs of an infection such as fever or chills
- Are concerned that your medication may be causing dizziness
- Experience hearing loss
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if you have:
- A head injury
- Rapid, irregular heartbeat, or chest pain
- High fever
Look for and know the signs of stroke. These may include:
- Face drooping—one side of the face is numb or drooping
- Arm weakness—one arm is numb, weak, or drifts downward when trying to raise it up
- Speech difficulty—includes slurring, inability to speak, or inability to repeat a simple sentence
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Confusion or difficulty understanding
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may recommend the following to find the cause of your dizziness:
Treatment depends on the cause of the dizziness. If your dizziness is caused by a condition, the treatment may help reduce symptoms. Examples include:
|Orthostatic hypotension||Medication, lifestyle and dietary changes|
|Motion sickness||Medication, lifestyle and lifestyle changes|
|Anxiety disorder or other mental health condition||Therapy and medication|
|Infection||Antibiotic or antiviral medication|
|Dizziness due to medication that you are taking||Changes to your medication|
|Imbalance||Physical therapy to build strength and balance|
To avoid injuries, make these lifestyle changes:
- If you are feeling dizzy, sit down right away. Also, avoid activities that could cause harm, like driving, using machinery, or climbing a ladder.
- Remove items in your home that could cause you to lose your balance such as throw rugs and loose electrical cords.
- Place slip-resistant mats in your shower and on your bathroom floor.
- Place night lights in hallways and in the bathroom.
- Use a cane if you feel that you need extra support.
Try these tips to prevent dizziness:
- Avoid sudden movements.
- Avoid bending down or extending your neck.
- Avoid smoking, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and using illicit drugs.
- Maintain proper treatment for long-term conditions.
- Get treatment when you have an infection.
- Talk to your doctor right away if you have side effects from your medications.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated January 14, 2013. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Dizziness and motion sickness. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at:
. Updated December 2010. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Dizziness-differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated December 16, 2011. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Stroke warning signs and symptoms. American Stroke Association website. Available at:
. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Last reviewed April 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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