What is dizziness?
Dizziness is a term often used to describe different symptoms. It can be a feeling of being unsteady or woozy. It also can be a feeling of spinning. Vertigo is the term health care providers use for when you feel you are spinning or the room is spinning. It is important for you to explain to your provider what you mean by dizziness. Dizziness is a painless head discomfort with many possible causes including disturbances of vision, the brain, balance (vestibular) system of the inner
ear, and gastrointestinal system. Dizziness is a medically indistinct term which laypersons use to describe a variety of conditions such as lightheadedness, unsteadiness, and vertigo.
As a disorder, dizziness is classified into three categories--vertigo, syncope, and nonsyncope nonvertigo. Each category has a characteristic set of symptoms, all related to the sense of balance. In general, syncope is defined by a brief loss of consciousness (fainting) or by dimmed vision and feeling uncoordinated, confused, and lightheaded. Many people experience a sensation like syncope when they stand up too fast. Vertigo is the feeling that either the individual or the surroundings are spinning. This sensation is like being on a spinning amusement park ride. Individuals with nonsyncope nonvertigo dizziness feel as though they cannot keep their balance. This feeling may become worse with movement.
The brain coordinates information from the eyes, the inner ear, and the body's senses to maintain balance. If any of these information sources is disrupted, the brain may not be able to compensate. For example, people sometimes experience motion sickness because the information from their body tells the brain that they are sitting still, but information from the eyes indicates that they are moving. The messages don't correspond and dizziness results.
Vision and the body's senses are the most important systems for maintaining balance, but problems in the inner ear are the most frequent cause of dizziness. The inner ear, also called the vestibular system, contains fluid that helps fine tune the information the brain receives from the eyes and the body. When fluid volume or pressure in one inner ear changes, information about balance is altered. The discrepancy gives conflicting messages to the brain about balance and induces dizziness.
Certain medical conditions can cause dizziness, because they affect the systems that maintain balance. For example, the inner ear is very sensitive to changes in blood flow. Because medical conditions such as high blood pressure or low blood sugar can affect blood flow, these conditions are frequently accompanied by dizziness. Circulation disorders are the most common causes of dizziness. Other causes are head injury, ear infection, allergies, and nervous system disorders.
Dizziness often disappears without treatment or with treatment of the underlying problem, but it can be long term or chronic. According to the National Institutes of Health, 42% of Americans will seek medical help for dizziness at some point in their lives. The costs may exceed a billion dollars and account for five million doctor visits annually. Episodes of dizziness increase with age. Among people aged 75 or older, dizziness is the most frequent reason for seeing a doctor.
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.