Dizziness, Nonvertigo

Dizziness may cause you to feel light-headed or weak. You may feel like you are going to faint. Dizziness can happen for a short period or be a long-lasting condition that gets in the way of your daily activities. It is different from vertigo, which is a feeling that the room is spinning or rotating while you are still.

  • Causes

    Many conditions can cause dizziness such as:

    • Orthostatic hypotension, a drop in blood pressure when standing
    • Neurological conditions
    • Conditions that affect how the heart pumps blood to the body
    • Anxiety
      disorders
    • Alcohol
      or illicit drug
      use
    • Infection or fever
    • Head injury
    • Hypoglycemia, low blood sugar
    • Anemia

    Prescription medications can also cause dizziness. These may include:

    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
    • Calcium channel blockers
    • Nitrates
    • Antipsychotics
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
    Blood Flow to the Brain
    Nucleus factsheet image
    In some cases, dizziness may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Dizziness may cause you to feel light-headed or weak. You may feel like you are going to faint. Dizziness can happen for a short period or be a long-lasting condition that gets in the way of your daily activities. It is different from vertigo, which is a feeling that the room is spinning or rotating while you are still.

  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Your bodily fluid may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests
    • Blood pressure measurements

    Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • CT scan
    • MRI scan

    The electrical activity of your heart may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (ECG).

    Other tests may include:

    • Tilt table test
    • Hearing and vision tests

  • Prevention

    Try these tips to prevent dizziness:

    • Avoid sudden movements.
    • Avoid bending down or extending your neck.
    • Avoid smoking, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and using illicit drugs.
    • Maintain proper treatment for long-term conditions.
    • Get treatment when you have an infection.
    • Talk to your doctor right away if you have side effects from your medications.

  • Risk Factors

    Dizziness is a symptom that may be caused by another condition. There are no specific risk factors for dizziness.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms depend on the type of dizziness you have. Common symptoms include:

    • Lightheadedness
    • Imbalance
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Headache
    • Vision or hearing problems
    • Heart palpitations

  • Treatment

    Treatment depends on the cause of the dizziness. If your dizziness is caused by a condition, the treatment may help reduce symptoms. Examples include:

    CauseTreatment
    Orthostatic hypotensionMedication, lifestyle, and dietary changes
    Motion sicknessMedication and lifestyle changes
    Anxiety disorder or other mental health conditionTherapy and medication
    InfectionAntibiotic or antiviral medication
    Dizziness due to medication that you are takingChanges to your medication
    ImbalancePhysical therapy to build strength and balance