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Understanding Dizziness: Symptoms and Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 01, 2021

How Do I Know If I Have Dizziness?

Because dizziness can involve so many parts of the body -- the ears, brain, or heart, to name a few -- your doctor will probably take a careful history of your symptoms, do a brief exam, and make a referral to a specialist if necessary.

Describe the sensation you feel thoroughly, since dizziness can be many things to many people.

What Are the Symptoms of Dizziness?

The symptoms of dizziness are:

  • Feeling motion when your body is still
  • Feeling lightheaded or that you are about to faint
  • Balance problems, such as being unsteady on your feet or feeling as if you might fall
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic

Call Your Doctor About Dizziness If:

What Are the Treatments for Dizziness?

Treatment depends on the type of dizziness you have. In general, treatment involves finding the underlying cause of the dizziness, whether a disease, a behavior, or something in the environment.

  • If the dizziness is caused by medication, your doctor may reduce the amount you take or switch you to another drug.
  • If you have vertigo, your doctor may perform the Dix-Hallpike maneuver. This test is used to diagnose and treat benign positional vertigo, which is caused by a sudden change in the position of your head. You suddenly feel like you are spinning.

For vertigo, your doctor may prescribe bed rest or medications that suppress the activity of the inner ear like the antihistamine meclizine or sedatives. Surgery may be necessary for more severe cases, such as those caused by Meniere's disease.

  • Disequilibrium or imbalance can be treated with balance therapy, which uses sophisticated devices to make a person relearn their sense of balance, but psychological methods may also be necessary. Stress management and relaxation therapy may help.
  • Treatment for severe lightheadedness, also called presyncope, requires a detailed medical exam. Depending on the cause, treatment options include medications or compression stockings to prevent blood from pooling in the your legs. Your doctor may also treat you for heart disease.

Accidents are more likely to happen while you’re dizzy, so be careful while driving or operating machinery.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery: "Dizziness and Motion Sickness."

The Mayo Clinic: "Dizziness," "Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)."

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