Dizziness can mean lightheadedness or vertigo. If you are speaking to a doctor, you should know which applies to you.
Lightheadedness is a type of dizziness that makes you feel faint. It will often go away if you sit or lie down. Vertigo, on the other hand, makes you feel like your surroundings are moving around you. You may be completely still, sitting, or lying down and it may feel like you are off balance, falling, or tilting.
Dizziness is common in older adults and it can also be often associated with another condition or disease.
Depending on what the cause of the dizziness is you may have dizziness as a symptom of a heart attack, in which case you may also have chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or an irregular heartbeat.
When dizziness is a sign of a stroke you can also experience numbness or even paralysis on one side of your body, imbalance, slurred speech, vision problems, drooling, confusion, or intense or severe headaches.
The most critical symptoms that may come with dizziness are fever, ringing in the ears, headache, nausea/vomiting, or wooziness that doesn’t go away and keeps coming back. If you have these symptoms see a doctor immediately.
Dizziness is a condition with a great many potential causes. The most common causes include motion sickness, inner ear conditions, and the side effects of medications. Dizziness as a result of vertigo can be caused by inconsistent information being given to your brain from your eyes and ears, the imbalance causing a sensation of spinning. Migraines can also cause this sensation, even when migraines are not currently being experienced. It can also be experienced as a result of certain diseases (such as BPPV, Parkinson’s, MS or Meniere’s disease) and viral infections of the vestibular nerve (vestibular neuritis). Problems with the circulatory system, including low blood pressure and poor circulation, have been known to cause dizziness and a general lightheaded feeling. Some instances of dizziness are a result of multiple conditions, including anxiety disorders, hypoglycemia, anemia, or dehydration.
Dizziness, when it is a one-time thing and is not accompanied by other symptoms, may be the sign of something simple, like not having eaten enough or being dehydrated. Eat or have something to drink immediately.
If there are any of the other symptoms mentioned, see a doctor right away. Treatment will depend on what the other symptoms are and what the results of tests are. Dizziness can be a sign of many different conditions and side effects of various medications so treatment will vary greatly, depending on the results.
Many of the risk factors of dizziness are unavoidable, such as age or past experiences of dizziness, but steps can be taken to prevent debilitating episodes of dizziness. Since there are so many potential causes of the dizziness, there are also many potential treatments. Dizziness may be reduced by medicines such as antihistamines or antibiotics that target the underlying infection causing the dizziness. Treating the disorder of which the dizziness is an effect with medications (anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, anti-migraine etc) is a very effective method of preventing dizziness. When there is a mental health aspect to the condition of dizziness, as is the case with anxiety, psychotherapy may lead to cessation of the symptoms. Physical therapy may alleviate the symptoms using techniques such as balance therapy, head position maneuvers, and vestibular rehabilitation. In extreme cases, invasive procedures such as an inner ear injection or surgery may be required to prevent dizziness and vertigo.