We've all been there. That spell of dizziness when you get light-headed, off-balance, or feel like you're spinning. If you get nausea along with it, it could be due to problems like vertigo, migraine, or low blood pressure.
Usually, dizziness with nausea isn't serious. But if you have these symptoms and you don't know what caused them, or they happen often, tell your doctor.
If you have vertigo, you might also have trouble keeping your balance and throw up.
Vertigo sometimes goes away on its own. If not, your doctor will treat the cause of the problem.
Some medicines can ease your dizziness. So can an exercise called the Epley maneuver, which involves moving your head into a different position.
If your dizziness is severe, call your doctor. You should also see her if you:
- Have an intense headache, chest pain, trouble breathing, fast heartbeat, or double vision
- Lose feeling in your arms or legs
- Get confused
- Have trouble walking
- Can't stop throwing up
- Have seizures
- Have a fever
Drinking too much can lead to a bad case of the spins. The reason you feel dizzy is that alcohol thins your blood, which changes the balance of fluid in your inner ear. And the dizziness can make you feel nauseated. The alcohol can also irritate your stomach, which adds to the nausea.
If you've had too much to drink, you might also have symptoms such as:
- Slurred speech
- Red face
- Double vision
- Slowed reflexes
To avoid these problems, limit how much alcohol you drink. If you want to stop drinking but can't, get help from your doctor or a program like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Get medical help right away if you or someone you're with has symptoms like these after drinking alcohol:
- Trouble staying awake
- Slow breathing
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Throwing up over and over again
Motion sickness is dizziness and nausea when you ride in a car, train, airplane, boat, or amusement park ride. Some people get it just from watching TV or a movie. The feeling happens when there is a conflict between what you see and how your body senses movement.
Motion sickness also causes symptoms like these:
- Throwing up
- Pale skin
To prevent motion sickness, ask your doctor for suggestions of medicines that you can take before you travel by plane, car, or boat. Don't eat a big meal before you go, and drink lots of water along the way. Sit next to a window and look out into the distance.
Other signs that you're pregnant are:
- Missed periods
- Sore and swollen breasts
- Peeing more often than usual
- Food cravings
Call your doctor if you get these signs of severe nausea (hyperemesis gravidarum):
- Throw up more than three or four times a day, or you can't keep any food down
- Have a dry mouth and you don't pee much
- Lose more than 5 pounds
- Belly or pelvic pain and cramping
Throwing up too much can dehydrate you. You may need to get fluids through an IV in a hospital.
Along with dizziness and nausea, a panic attack can cause symptoms like:
- Fast heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in your chest
- Feeling hot or cold
An anxiety attack can feel like a heart attack. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.
Call your doctor or 911 if you:
- Suddenly feel anxious for no reason
- Still have symptoms after a few minutes
- Also have chest pain or can't catch your breath
Low Blood Sugar
Sugar (glucose) is your body's main source of fuel. When your blood sugar dips too low, you'll feel shaky, dizzy, and nauseated. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is common in people who take medicine for diabetes.
Other symptoms of low blood sugar are:
- Pale skin
- Crankiness or confusion
Eat fast-acting carbs like these to raise your blood sugar:
- Fruit juice
- Hard candy, such as suckers or jelly beans
Once your blood sugar comes back up, eat a snack or a meal to keep it stable.
Call your doctor or 911 if your blood sugar doesn't go up after you eat something sweet.
Some other symptoms you might have with a migraine are:
- Spots or flashes of light called aura
- Feel sensitive to light, sound, and smells
- Blurred vision
Your doctor can suggest medicines to prevent and treat migraine headaches.
Get medical help right away if:
- Your pain is intense, or it feels like the worst headache of your life
- You have a stiff neck, fever, seizures, double vision, weakness, or trouble speaking
- The headache started after a head injury, or when you coughed, sneezed, or strained
This is a medical emergency that needs fast treatment. Call 911 or go to an emergency room right away if you have symptoms like:
- Pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest that may spread to your neck, jaw, or arms
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
Doctors treat a heart attack with medicines that break up blood clots and stop new ones from forming. Surgery can clear or bypass the blockage.
Rarely, dizziness and nausea are signs of a brain tumor. Other symptoms are:
- Severe headaches
- Changes in your vision, hearing, or sense of smell
- Personality changes
- Loss of balance
Call your doctor if you have:
- New or severe headaches
- Vision loss, blurred vision, or double vision
- Seizures for the first time in your life
- Changes in your balance
- Trouble speaking