Read below about dizziness, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your dizziness from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Dizziness Symptoms

Do you remember the giddy feeling of whirling around as a child, trying to make yourself dizzy? Dizziness can feel like this or lightheadedness, or can be characterized by instability and confusion when you stand up from a sitting position. However, it’s unlikely that as we age we continue to chase this feeling, or regain our balance quite as quickly.

Dizziness can be caused simply by sitting too long or too much, or by a more serious disorder, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or adrenal fatigue and hormonal burnout, which cause chronic fatigue and dizziness.

Dizziness typically makes you feel:

Dizziness symptoms every once in a while, are not uncommon. But chronic dizziness can indicate that a medical condition of some kind is at work.

Let's look at some of the causes of dizziness, both non-threatening and more serious.

Dizziness Causes Overview

Our ability to balance (to move without falling) is largely directed by the structure and function of the inner ear. The inner ear contains fluid and hair-like sensors that can detect when the head moves up and down, back and forth, or tilts from side to side.

  • Vertigo: Blockages or damage to the inner ear (called the vestibular system) can disrupt your sense of balance, causing a feeling of dizziness called "vertigo" in the medical community. Vertigo is most noticeable when you change your position, especially moving from sitting to a standing position. Over time, vertigo can worsen, causing difficulty achieving balance when standing and walking.

  • Medical issues:

    • Dizziness that results in fainting, falling, wooziness, and blurry vision when standing is formally called "presyncope." With presyncope dizziness, patients typically experience dizziness that is accompanied by nausea and stomach upset, clammy hands, sweating, and a racing pulse. Often, presyncope dizziness is caused by vitamin deficiencies, especially in iron or B12, both of which can cause anemia. Presyncope dizziness can also be caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and you'll want to see a doctor about this condition, as he/she can help you strategize a diet that will help alleviate your dizziness.
    • Dizziness can also be caused by anxiety, especially in the case of panic attacks.
  • Medications: Dizziness can also be caused by certain medications such as blood pressure lowering medications, anti-depressants, diuretics, and some antibiotics. In fact, a wide range of medications can cause dizziness when you first start taking them or if your dose needs to be adjusted.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Dizziness

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced dizziness. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is a common disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes of intense dizziness with head movements. It is believed this is caused by tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear that become dislodged from their usual position within the inner ear.

    Condition will either resolve on its own or is highly treatable with a physical maneuver.

    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
  2. 2.Dehydration

    Dehydration occurs when the body does not have fluid to function properly, because of decreased intake or increased losses like vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, dark urine, fatigue, and dizziness.

    With rehydration, symptoms resolve completely.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, racing heart beat, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  3. 3.Iron Deficiency Anemia

    Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which deliver oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body does not have enough iron. Iron helps make red blood cells.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, heavy menstrual flow
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Meniere's Disease

    Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It can cause severe dizziness, a roaring sound in the ears called tinnitus, hearing loss that comes and goes and the feeling of ear pressure or pain. Meniere's commonly develops between the ages of 20 and 40, and most often starts in only one ear.

    Life-long condition, attacks may happen 6-11 times per year on average.

    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

    Dizziness Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having dizziness.

    Dizziness Quiz
  5. 5.Congestive Heart Failure

    Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a form of heart failure that causes fluid to back up into the lungs and other tissue. Symptoms include trouble breathing and edema (swelling of ankles, hands)

    This is a lifelong condition but symptoms can be managed.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough at night, shortness of breath on exertion
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Inner Ear Infection (Labyrinthitis)

    Labyrinthitis is an infection of the inner ear.

    If there is no neurological issues (from a stroke or meningitis), the prognosis is good. However, symptoms of Labyrinthitis tend to linger for an extended period of time.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, fever
    Symptoms that always occur with inner ear infection (labyrinthitis):
    vertigo or imbalance
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  8. 8.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.

    Usually goes away on its own within 6-12 months.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, vertigo (extreme dizziness)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Atrial Fibrillation

    An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. The atria comprise two out of the four chambers of the heart. When their beat is disturbed, symptoms such as a racing heart, chest pain, breathlessness, and dizziness may occur.

    More than 1/2 of people with short term atrial fibrillation get their normal heart rhythm back in less than 2 days without any treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, racing heart beat, lightheadedness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

Dizziness Treatments and Relief

Treatment for vertigo-related dizziness symptoms:

  • Dizziness caused by vertigo usually goes away on its own after a few days. During those few days, it may be difficult to function and fulfill your responsibilities at home, school, and work. You will feel best if you try to remain as still and as immobile as possible, resting on a couch or bed if you can. You may want to get a walker or cane to assist you in getting around and prevent to falls.

If you must be up and about, there are some medications that can help. Anticholinergic drugs, such as meclizine, work by blocking some of the activity in your nervous system so that you can balance.

Dizziness caused by underlying medical conditions:

  • Dizziness caused by medical conditions cannot be resolved until the medical condition is addressed. This kind of dizziness, called non-vestibular dizziness, is a symptom of an underlying condition, and will persist until that condition is treated.

  • Your healthcare provider can help you identify and address what is causing your dizziness symptoms. Anemia, for example, should improve after several weeks of taking a daily iron or B12 supplement. Vegetarians are especially susceptible to iron and B12 deficient anemia, as these nutrients are found chiefly in red meat, egg yolks, and cheeses.

Dizziness caused by medication:

  • Contact your healthcare provider if you believe your medication is causing dizziness. The fix may be as simple as adjusting your medication dose. If not, there might be an effective alternative medication — one that doesn't make you feel like the room is spinning.

Dizziness caused by lifestyle and behavior:

  • Overall, if your dizziness is not caused by a medical condition, there is a fair chance you're simply sitting too long. Perhaps you're working at a desk for long hours, without getting up to get your blood flowing and heart rate normalized. Researchers advise a three-minute walk every hour spent sitting to keep you ultimately healthy.

It is important to seek immediate medical care if dizziness symptoms are accompanied by:

FAQs About Dizziness

Here are some frequently asked questions about dizziness.

What causes dizziness?

Dizziness can be caused by many different bodily systems. Most commonly, it can be caused by dehydration or by making transitional movements, such as from lying to sitting or sitting to standing. It can also be caused by any condition temporarily reducing blood flow to the brain stem. It may also be caused by problems within the nervous system that affect the cerebellum, vestibulocochlear nerve, or cerebral cortex.

What causes dizzy spells?

Dizzy spells can be caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain, an error in firing of nerves within the brain, trauma to the head, or any number of foods or medications. It is most commonly caused by dehydration, but if an individual has prior diagnoses of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, or any neurological issue and is experiencing repeated dizziness that does not respond to adequate hydration, they should seek medical care.

Why am I lightheaded and dizzy?

Dizziness can come from a wide variety of causes, and if the dizziness is not alleviated by adequate hydration and is continual or recurrent over a long period of time, an individual should alert a health professional and seek a proper evaluation. The most common causes of dizziness are inadequate hydration and/or abnormal blood pressure regulation.

What causes dizziness upon standing?

When you stand, your heart and cardiovascular system has to pump with more force to counteract the force of gravity causing blood to pool in the legs. To do this the heart rate speeds up and blood vessels constrict. If these measures are inadequate to help channel blood to the brain, and the brain receives inadequate blood, a person may experience temporary dizziness. Usually, sitting for a period and rehydrating can help a person regain stability.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dizziness

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Q.Do you hear a ringing or whistling sound no one else hears?
  • Q.Which statement fits your dizziness most?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our dizziness symptom checker to find out more.

Dizziness Quiz

Dizziness Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced dizziness have also experienced:

    • 9% Nausea
    • 7% Headache
    • 6% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced dizziness had symptoms persist for:

    • 41% Less Than a Day
    • 25% Less Than a Week
    • 17% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced dizziness were most often matched with:

    • 50% Dehydration
    • 25% Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
    • 25% Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having dizziness

Dizziness Quiz