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:
- Chest pain, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath (may be a sign of a heart attack)
- Facial droop, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body, or inability to walk straight (may be signs of a stroke)
- History of heart disease
- Loss of consciousness, fainting, or nearly fainting
- Fever or pale skin
What Are Symptoms of Dizziness?
Symptoms of dizziness may be described as:
- Lightheadedness or actual fainting
- 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:
- Heart disease or blood pressure problems
- Brain diseases or conditions
- Metabolic disorders
- Other illnesses
- Psychiatric conditions
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
Home treatments for mild cases of dizziness include:
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