Dizziness is a balance disorder that causes an individual to feel unsteady, giddy, woozy, or have a sensation of movement, spinning, or floating. This occurs when balance signals to the brain are disrupted, causing an individual to have difficulty maintaining orientation.

In addition to feelings of unsteadiness, symptoms include falling or feeling like you’re going to; lightheadedness; blurred vision; and disorientation. Some individuals may also experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, faintness, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, fear, anxiety, or panic. Fatigue, depression, and a lack of concentration may result.

What Causes Dizziness?

Dizziness occurs when your brain incorrectly senses movement thanks to false signals from the balance and sensory systems. A common cause is low blood pressure; the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen-rich blood, limiting its ability to ability to function. Low blood pressure occurs as a result of anemia, bleeding, dehydration, heat-related disorders, and medications such as beta blockers and nitroglycerin.

A number of other conditions can cause dizziness. These include hypotension (the result of a lack of blood in the head when getting up from a lying position), high blood pressure, endocrine system disorders (e.g. diabetes, thyroid disease), hyperventilation, heart conditions, and vascular disorders.

Some of the more common balance disorders that cause dizziness include Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV (a brief, intense sensation of vertigo that occurs because of a specific positional change of the head; the result of tiny otolithic crystals that have broken free and are floating in the fluid of the semicircular canals), labyrinthitis (an infection or inflammation of the inner ear causing dizziness and loss of balance), Meniere’s disease (an inner ear fluid balance disorder that causes episodes of vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus, and the sensation of fullness in the ear.

Treatment for Dizziness

There are various options for treating dizziness. Keep in mind that dizziness is a symptom and not a disease, and the best way to treat it is to target the underlying condition that’s causing it. Options may include medication, physical/occupational therapy, repositioning exercises, vestibular retraining programs, surgery, and lifestyle modifications (dietary changes, exercise, quitting smoking, etc.).