What Causes Dizziness, Vertigo, and How to Treat It

What Causes Dizziness and How to Treat It

Dizziness: Causes, Related Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

Dizziness is the feeling of being lightheaded, woozy, or off-balance. It’s linked to the sensory organs, specifically the eyes and ears, so it can sometimes cause fainting. Dizziness isn’t a disease itself but rather a symptom of various disorders.

Dizziness can occur when you’re moving, standing still or lying down. When you’re dizzy, you may feel:

  • Faint
  • Lightheaded
  • Nauseous
  • Unsteady
  • Woozy

Dizziness is common. Occasional dizziness isn’t something to worry about. However, it’s important to call a doctor or visit a closest emergency room immediately if you’re experiencing repeated episodes of dizziness for no apparent reason or for a prolonged period.

What’s the difference between dizziness and vertigo?

Intense vertigo can make you nauseous or so unsteady you can’t drive or walk. It feels like you or objects around you are:

  • Floating
  • Spinning
  • Swaying
  • Tilting

What causes dizziness?

A number of conditions can cause dizziness because balance involves several parts of the body. The brain gets input about movement and your body’s position from your:

  • Inner ear
  • Eyes
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Skin

Inner ear disorders are frequently the cause of feeling dizzy. The most common causes include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's syndrome and ear infections.

How are dizziness and vertigo treated?

Treatment for vertigo and dizziness varies widely depending on the cause. Your healthcare provider may refer you to an audiologist for vestibular and balance assessment to help determine the cause for dizziness, and help determine next steps in management. If you have an ear infection, you may just need anti-nausea medication until the infection is gone. For long-term (chronic) conditions, your healthcare provider may recommend vestibular rehabilitation. It’s similar to physical therapy, with the goal of improving your balance through specific exercises.

What can I do to prevent falling?

If you have dizziness or vertigo, you should avoid several activities, including:

  • Driving (until your doctor gives you approval)
  • Standing in high places, such as climbing a ladder
  • Walking in the dark
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes

Take these steps to reduce your risk of falling:

  • Always use handrails when walking up and down stairs
  • Change positions or turn slowly. Have something nearby to hold onto
  • Install hand grips in baths and showers
  • Practice exercises that can improve balance, such as tai chi or yoga
  • Remove floor clutter that you might trip over like throw rugs, loose electrical cords and stools. Be careful around small pets that might get underfoot
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for several minutes in the morning before you stand up
  • Use a cane or walker

When Should I Visit Emergency Room?

If your dizziness won’t go away or keeps coming back, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it. Seek emergency care if you also have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • High fever
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your face, arms or legs
  • Slurred speech or a stiff neck
  • Trouble walking

Our ER is open 24/7 to help treat and diagnose minor and major emergencies. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us. Our board-certified physicians are available 24 hours.