What is dizziness?

Dizziness is the sensation of lightheadedness, or the feeling that you might pass out. Dizziness may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, perspiration or a cold sweat, and fainting. Blood supplies oxygen to the brain. Dizziness occurs when blood is not getting to the brain quickly enough, or if there is a deficit in the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Lightheadedness can be caused by orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure after you stand); hunger; common illnesses and infections, such as colds; hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); dehydration; heart problems; or feelings of anxiety and panic. More-serious causes of lightheadedness include severe bleeding, heart attack, and abnormal heart rhythms.

The sensation of things spinning around you, making you feel unsteady or off-balance is known as vertigo, and many people may describe this symptom as dizziness. Vertigo is most commonly caused by a condition known as benign positional vertigo, labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear), Meniere’s disease (inner ear disease that affects balance and hearing), migraines, and decreased blood flow to the cerebellum (the lower portion of the brain that is involved in control of balance).

Feeling lightheaded and dizzy can be signs of a potentially life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack, stroke, or shock (severe drop in blood pressure). Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience dizziness accompanied by feelings of pain in your chest, speech problems, confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment, difficulty breathing, severe abdominal pain, severe headache, uncontrolled bleeding, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or changes in vision.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with dizziness?

Dizziness may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition.... Read more about dizzinesssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes dizziness?

Some common causes of dizziness include hunger, fatigue, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or anxiety. Dizziness can also be caused by neurologic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Vertigo (the perception of moving or your surroundings moving around you) is associated with disturbances in the vestibular system, which governs balance. Because your ears are associated with this system, ear infections and diseases, such as Meniere’s disease, can affect your sense of balance and gait. Benign positional vertigo affects the inner ear and occurs when you change the position of your head. Labyrinthitis... Read more about dizzinesscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves