What causes dizziness?
There are many causes of dizziness. Conditions that affect the inner ear may cause this symptom, because this is where the organ of balance (the labyrinth) is situated; more rarely, conditions that affect the brain may also lead to dizziness. Abnormalities of heart rhythm or falls in blood pressure when standing up may cause the sensation of light-headedness.
The most common conditions to affect the inner ear and cause dizziness include Meniere's disease, 'benign positional vertigo' and 'vestibular neuronitis', which is also known as 'viral labyrinthitis' and may result from a viral infection of the labyrinth.
Dizziness is not a disease. It is a symptom. Most often it is mild and temporary and a cause cannot be found. Sometimes it is a signal of some other problem. Feelings of dizziness or vertigo may be caused by an infection or disease in the inner ear. For example, one possible cause is labyrinthitis, which is inflammation of the inner ear. Meniere's disease and benign positional vertigo are other inner ear problems that can trigger dizziness. Dizziness can be caused by tiredness, stress, fever, low blood sugar, anemia, head injury, heart or circulation problems, or stroke. It can also be caused by some medicines. Older people who have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or osteoarthritis of the joints in the neck (which may cause pressure on nerves and blood vessels) may experience vertigo when they suddenly move their heads or look up. Dizziness occurs more often in the elderly than in other age groups but it is not necessarily caused by disease.
Some disorders cause light-headedness only during or after certain activities. For example, an excessive fall in blood pressure after standing up quickly (orthostatic hypotension) or after eating a meal (postprandial hypotension) can make people feel light-headed after those activities. In both cases, the brain does not get enough blood because blood pressure is too low. Some disorders tend to cause temporary dizziness. For example, a person who has a heart attack may suddenly feel dizzy (usually light-headed) and continue to feel that way for a few days to a few weeks. As the heart heals, the feeling goes away. With other disorders, how long dizziness will last is uncertain. For example, if a person with diabetes develops dysequilibrium, it may go away in a month, or it may last for a lifetime (although its severity may vary). Depression sometimes causes dizziness. People who are depressed may lose confidence in their ability to interact with their surroundings. They may then feel unsteady or light-headed.
Some psychological problems can cause dizziness. Examples of such problems are depression, agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces), and hyperventilation (rapid, shallow breathing that may happen when you are feeling anxious). Rare causes of dizziness include tumors or infections in the brain, or multiple sclerosis.
More information on dizziness
What is dizziness? - Dizziness is a term often used to describe different symptoms. It can be a feeling of being unsteady or woozy.
What types of dizziness are there? - Types of dizziness include vertigo, dysequilibrium, labyrinthitis, eniere's disease, light-headedness.
What causes dizziness? - There are many causes of dizziness. Dizziness can be caused by tiredness, stress, fever, low blood sugar, anemia, head injury, heart or circulation problems.
What're the symptoms of dizziness? - Dizziness is a common symptom of balance disorders. Visual symptoms include poor depth perception, blurred or double vision, glare.
How is dizziness diagnosed? - Diagnosing the cause of dizziness starts with a medical history and physical exam. This may be all that is needed to figure out the cause.
What's the treatment for dizziness? - The treatment for dizziness will depend on the cause of dizziness. Homeopathic therapies can work very effectively for dizziness.
How to prevent dizziness? - Most people learn through experience that certain activities will make them dizzy and they learn to avoid them.
What is vertigo? - Vertigo is a type of dizziness or a sensation of movement when none is actually occurring. The precise definition of vertigo is an illusion of motion.
What causes vertigo? - Vertigo tends to have a specific cause. Vertigo can be caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and base of the brain.
What're the symptoms of vertigo? - Symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) usually last a few seconds to a few minutes and are intermittent.
How is vertigo diagnosed? - The diagnosis of vertigo is made based on the description of what the person is feeling. Positional vertigo is diagnosed when moving the head causes the vertigo.
What's the treatment for vertigo? - Treatment of vertigo depends on the diagnosis. A complete medical evaluation is recommended for anyone with vertigo.
What's benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV)? - Benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder of the inner ear. BPPV is the commonest form of vertigo.