What is Dizziness?

Dizziness is defined as feelings of unsteadiness, wooziness, and lightheadedness; and sensations of moving, spinning, floating, swaying, tilting, or whirling (sensations known as vertigo). These sensations occur even when standing still or lying down.

More than 4 out of 10 people experience an episode of dizziness significant enough to send them to a doctor. Dizziness changes your sense of balance and can increase your risk of falling.

What causes dizziness?

For the body to feel balanced, the brain requires input from the inner ear, eyes, muscles and joints. Since mechanisms for maintaining balance are so complex, finding the exact cause of dizziness is often difficult and requires input from several medical specialties. Dizziness is generally not serious. However, it may be the result from problems associated with the inner ear, brain, or heart. It can also be the result of medications.

One of the most common causes of dizziness is inner ear disorders. These disorders include:

General location of inner ear disorders

General location of inner ear disorders.
Semicircular canals: Benign positional vertigo.
Vestibular nerve: vestibular neuritis and acoustic neuroma.

Other causes of dizziness

Medications are a common source of dizziness. The medicines can include drugs to treat seizure disorders (eg, carbamazepine, phenytoin), drugs to help calm or sleep (sedating drugs/antidepressants), and even drugs used to treat inner ear infections (eg, gentamicin, streptomycin).

Alcohol consumption is another cause of dizziness.

Tips to reduce falls include:

When should I see my doctor?

If you are feeling dizzy, it is important to see your primary care doctor for a thorough exam.

References:

 

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on:

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