Symptoms A-Z

Dizziness and Light-headedness Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your dizziness and light-headedness symptoms, including 8 causes & common questions.

An image depicting a person suffering from dizziness and light-headedness symptoms

Dizziness And Light-Headedness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having dizziness and light-headedness

Contents

  1. 8 Possible Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

8 Possible Dizziness And Light-Headedness Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced dizziness and light-headedness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Dehydration

Dehydration means the body does not have enough water to carry out its normal processes.

Most susceptible to serious dehydration are young children with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. In adults, some medications increase urination and can lead to dehydration. Anyone exercising vigorously, especially in hot weather, can quickly become dehydrated.

Symptoms include extreme thirst; dry mouth; infrequent, dark-colored urine; dizziness; and confusion. Young children may have sunken eyes, cheeks, and soft spot on top of the skull.

Severe dehydration is a serious medical emergency that can lead to heat stroke, kidney damage, seizures, coma, and death. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through blood tests and urine tests.

Mild dehydration can be treated simply by drinking extra water, or water with electrolytes such as sports drinks. More serious cases may be hospitalized for intravenous fluids.

It's important for anyone who is outside in hot weather, or who is ill, to drink extra fluids even before feeling thirsty as thirst is not always a reliable guide.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, racing heart beat, being severely ill

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that affects balance and hearing.

Meniere's disease is due to an abnormality in the inner ear that results in low levels of fluid, thus interfering with the sense of balance. The abnormality may be hereditary or it could be from allergies, autoimmune disease, or other illness.

Symptoms usually affect only one ear and include severe attacks of vertigo, or the sensation of spinning; tinnitus, or ringing in the ear; pressure inside the ear; and increasing deafness. These symptoms are unpredictable and can come and go without warning.

Meniere's disease is progressive and will not go away on its own. It can lead to a severe loss of hearing and balance, and so a medical provider should be seen at the earliest symptoms.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; hearing tests; and balance tests.

There is no cure for Meniere's disease, but it can be treated with motion sickness and anti-nausea medicines, hearing aids, and occasionally surgery.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), ear fullness/pressure, brief fainting episode

Symptoms that always occur with meniere's disease: dizziness: at least 2 episodes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Vestibular dysfunction

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular dysfunction can result. People with vestibular dysfunction usually get light headed, or lose balance easily. It can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, vertigo (extreme dizziness)

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough iron to form hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

The condition can be caused by acute blood loss through injury, surgery, or childbirth;chronic blood loss through an ulcer, overuse of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or heavy menstrual periods; or impaired absorption of dietary iron due to low dietary iron intake, prior surgeries, disease, or interference from certain medications.

Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat. If not treated, iron deficiency anemia can lead to heart disease because the heart has to increase its pumping activity in order to compensate for the reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells. In children, iron deficiency is also associated with developmental problems. The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia is made through physical examination and blood tests.

Treatment includes a diet rich in iron-containing foods, such as red meat and leafy green vegetables, along with iron supplements. In some circumstances, hospitalization, blood transfusions, and/or intravenous iron therapy may be needed.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, heavy menstrual flow

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Dizziness And Light-Headedness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having dizziness and light-headedness

Congenital long qt syndrome

Congenital Long QT syndrome is a disorder of the heart's electrical activity from birth, causing possibly dangerous rhythm changes.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: racing heart beat, brief fainting episode, not having protected the body during the fall, feeling completely normal before fainting, dizziness and light-headedness

Urgency: In-person visit

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) means "abnormal thickening of the heart muscle." This can interfere with the heart's ability to pump blood.

Most often, an inherited genetic mutation causes HCM. However, aging, high blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid disease can sometimes bring it about.

Many people have no symptoms at all. Some have unexplained chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, or the feeling of rapid, fluttering heartbeat, because the abnormally thick heart muscle interferes with normal heartbeat and causes an arrhythmia. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Untreated hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can lead to serious heart disease and even sudden cardiac arrest and death, especially in people under age 30.

Diagnosis is made through echocardiogram; electrocardiogram; treadmill stress test; and/or cardiac MRI.

Treatment involves medication to relax the enlarged heart muscle and slow the rapid pulse. Surgery to remove some of the thickened muscle may be done, or a defibrillator may be implanted.

Anyone with a family history of HCM should ask their medical provider about screening for the disease, which involves regular echocardiography.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, racing heart beat, shortness of breath on exertion

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is a common cause of vertigo –dizziness whenever the position of the head is significantly changed.

BPPV may occur after a head injury, whether minor or serious; or it can be caused by inner ear damage, which affects balance.

Most susceptible are women over 50, though it can happen to anyone at any age.

Symptoms include mild to intense dizziness or spinning; loss of balance; nausea; and sometimes vomiting. Flickering, jerking eye movements called nystagmus often occur at the same time.

Though BPPV is not dangerous in itself, it can cause falls and interfere with quality of life. If the dizziness occurs with severe headache, vision changes, trouble speaking, or paralysis, take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, particularly looking for nystagmus. Specialized eye tests and imaging may be done.

BPPV may eventually resolve on its own. If not, therapy to adjust the sensitivity of the inner ear may be done, and in some cases surgery is effective.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, episodic dizziness, vomiting, vertigo (extreme dizziness), dizziness

Symptoms that always occur with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: episodic dizziness

Symptoms that never occur with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: hearing loss, heartbeat sound in the ear, ringing in the ears

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by a rapid rate and irregular rhythm that feels like the heart is quivering. It can lead to chest discomfort, shortness of breath,.

Heart damage from high blood pressure, congenital heart defects, viral infections, and sleep apnea can cause atrial fibrillation. Other risk factors include increasing age, obesity, family history, and drinking alcohol.

Symptoms include a jerky, fluttering heartbeat (palpitations);(https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/chest-pain-worse-breathing-or-coughing/) is a medical emergency requiring a call to 911.

Treatment involves cardioversion with mild electrical shock or medication to return the heart to normal rhythm. Blood thinners and medication to maintain heart rhythm will be prescribed. Procedures may be needed in some cases.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, racing heart beat, lightheadedness

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dizziness And Light-Headedness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Do you notice your heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly (also called palpitations)?
  • Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Did you faint?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having dizziness and light-headedness

Dizziness And Light-Headedness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced dizziness and light-headedness have also experienced:

  • 7% Nausea
  • 6% Fatigue
  • 6% Headache

People who have experienced dizziness and light-headedness were most often matched with:

  • 50% Dehydration
  • 25% Meniere'S Disease
  • 25% Vestibular Dysfunction

People who have experienced dizziness and light-headedness had symptoms persist for:

  • 41% Less than a day
  • 25% Less than a week
  • 17% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Dizziness And Light-Headedness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having dizziness and light-headedness