When Should You Worry About Dizziness?

Reviewed on 6/15/2021

Dizziness can be caused by many different medical conditions. You should call a doctor if you experience sudden dizziness; severe, new instances of dizziness; dizziness without a clear cause;  change in known patterns of dizziness; worsening or new symptoms; or dizziness after taking newly prescribed medications, or recent dosage or regimen changes in previous prescriptions.
Dizziness can be caused by many different medical conditions. You should call a doctor if you experience sudden dizziness; severe, new instances of dizziness; dizziness without a clear cause; change in known patterns of dizziness; worsening or new symptoms; or dizziness after taking newly prescribed medications, or recent dosage or regimen changes in previous prescriptions.

Dizziness is a description for many different sensations, including lightheadedness, unsteadiness, wooziness, and feeling off balance.

Vertigo is similar to dizziness, though it describes a spinning sensation of a person's surroundings, usually caused by head movement or positioning. 

Some medical conditions that can be dangerous or even life-threatening may have dizziness as a symptom. Call a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Sudden dizziness
  • Severe, new instances of dizziness
  • Dizziness without a clear cause
  • Change in known patterns of dizziness
  • Worsening or new symptoms
  • Dizziness after taking newly prescribed medications, or recent dosage or regimen changes in previous prescriptions

Call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency department right away if dizziness is associated with any of the following symptoms or conditions:

What Are Symptoms of Dizziness?

Symptoms of dizziness may be described as: 

  • Lightheadedness or actual fainting
  • Weakness 
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Clumsiness
  • Feeling off balance
  • Feeling a sensation of movement, spinning, rocking, or whirling, of themselves or the room (possible vertigo)

Dizziness may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

What Causes Dizziness?

Dizziness can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, including: 

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How Is Dizziness Diagnosed?

The cause of dizziness is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination along with tests based on the patient’s history and physical exam to determine the cause, such as:

What Is the Treatment for Dizziness?

Treatment for dizziness depends on the cause. Dizziness can be a symptom of many different underlying conditions and each condition must be treated differently. 

Treatment for some conditions that cause dizziness may include:

  • Medications to treat the underlying condition
  • If dizziness is caused by medications, it may be treated by stopping or modifying the dosage or regimen (never stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor)
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids to treat dehydration
  • Emergency blood transfusion
  • Fever reducers 
  • Medications to treat infections
  • Oxygen for shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Epley maneuver for vertigo
  • Medications such as meclizine (Antivert) or benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) or lorazepam (Ativan) may be given to control the spinning feeling (vertigo) associated with dizziness
  • Surgery 

Home treatments for mild cases of dizziness include:

  • Drink adequate fluids
  • Eat regular meals
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Lay down 
  • Stand up slowly
  • Don’t smoke

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Reviewed on 6/15/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-the-patient-with-dizziness?source=search_result&search=dizziness&selectedTitle=1~150

https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/dizziness-during-pregnancy-966/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/eating-can-cause-low-blood-pressure