Dizziness is a feeling of being lightheaded, woozy, or unbalanced. It affects the sensory organs, specifically the eyes and ears, so it can sometimes cause fainting. Dizziness isn’t a disease, but rather a symptom of various disorders. Dizziness can create a false sense of a person’s head spinning or spinning of the surroundings or swaying. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, headache, or difficulty walking. Vertigo differs from dizziness because vertigo is a true sensation of self-spinning or spinning of the surrounding. Dizzinesss on the other hand is less severe, with a feeling of imbalance or feeling “wonky.”.
Common causes of dizzinesss include a migraine, medications, and alcohol. It can also be caused by a problem in the inner ear, where balance is regulated.
Dizziness is often a result of vertigo as well. The most common cause of vertigo and vertigo-related dizzinesss is benign positional vertigo (BPV). This causes short-term dizzinesss when someone changes positions quickly, such as sitting up in bed after lying down.
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Dizzinesss and vertigo can also be triggered by Meniere’s disease. This causes fluid to build up in the ear with associated ear fullness, hearing loss, and tinnitus. Another possible cause for dizzinesss and vertigo is an acoustic neuroma. This is a noncancerous tumor that forms on the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
Some other possible causes of dizzinesss include:
sudden drop in blood pressure
heart muscle disease
decrease in blood volume
anemia (low iron)
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Most of the time, no medication is needed, but there are some drugs that can be used to treat the underlying causes of dizzinesss. Depending on the cause, these can include:
anti-anxiety medications, when dizzinesss is caused by panic disorders or by mental health issues
anticholinergic drugs or antihistamines, which may reduce dizzinesss or offer relief from vertigo
medications for migraines, if the dizzinesss is linked to migraines
Each of these medications can treat an underlying cause of dizzinesss, such as fluid buildup in the ear, anxiety, the side effects from a particular drug, or other reasons. Lifestyle changes or a further visit to the doctor may be necessary if these treatments do not help alleviate the dizzinesss.
These changes could be as simple as drinking more water or other non-alcoholic liquid to keep well-hydrated, or lying down when feeling dizzy.
Steps people can take to relieve dizzinesss include:
lying down and closing the eyes
drinking plenty of water and keeping hydrated
reducing stress plus alcohol and tobacco intake
getting plenty of sleep
There are several therapeutic approaches that can also be used to help relieve dizzinesss, such as head position maneuvers, balance therapy, or psychotherapy.
Head position maneuvers: A method called the Epley maneuver may help with feelings of dizzinesss. It involves moving the position of the head in specific ways to reposition small calcium crystals that are causing the dizziness. People should discuss the approach with a doctor before using it.
Balance therapy: There are several exercises that people can do to train their bodies to become less sensitive to movement. These can help if dizziness is caused by a problem with the inner ear.
Psychotherapy: If someone has dizziness that is related to an anxiety disorder, psychotherapy may help them to relieve this symptom.