What causes dizziness?

Dizziness includes a range of symptoms, including feeling faint, unsteady, or weak. Sometimes people who feel dizzy say they feel like the room is spinning, which is commonly called vertigo.

Many adults experience dizziness at some point in time. While frequent dizzy spells can interfere with daily activities, they don’t typically signal a life-threatening condition. 

There are a long list of reasons that someone may experience temporary dizziness, including: 

  • Low or high blood pressure or a sudden change in blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Side effects of medication
  • Heart conditions
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Vasovagal syncope (fainting due to the body’s overreaction to certain stimuli)

Vertigo is typically caused by a problem in the inner ear, although it may also be a symptom of stroke. 

Symptoms of dizziness can be made worse by position changes, such as sitting down or standing up, or moving your head. Dizziness may also be accompanied by nausea. 

Cardiovascular causes of dizziness

Dizziness can occur if your brain is not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood pumped by your heart. Some potential cardiovascular causes for dizziness include orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when sitting up or standing up), irregular heart rhythms, stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or arteriosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls that inhibits blood flow). 

When should you see a doctor for dizziness? 

If you experience repeat or prolonged episodes of dizziness or they are sudden and severe, consult your doctor to explore the underlying cause of your dizziness. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience dizziness combined with any of these symptoms: 

  • Sudden or severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fainting
  • Sudden change in speech, vision, or hearing 
  • High fever or very stiff neck
  • Chest pain or irregular heart beat
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Seizures

In most cases, an occasional dizzy spell is not cause for concern, but repeat episodes may be a sign of a more serious condition. If you experience repeat episodes of dizziness and want to rule out any cardiovascular causes, contact the Oklahoma Heart Hospital today.