Hearing Care & Optics

Hearing Care & Optics
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Dizziness overview

Dizziness is a common description for many different feelings. The feeling of dizziness, or a "dizzy spell," may be familiar to an individual, yet difficult to describe. The person may have a feeling of lightheadedness, spinning, whirling, or motion, either of themselves or of the surroundings. The person may also feel as if they are going to faint. Dizziness may be just mildly annoying or caused by something possibly life-threatening. Some of the reasons a person might feel the sensation of dizziness include:
Fainting or near fainting, which may result from:
  • Emotional upset
  • Standing up too quickly (orthostatic hypotension) or standing still too long
  • Having the flu, a cold, or other illness
  • Seasickness or motion sickness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
Vertigo, which is similar to, but not the same condition as dizziness, is a medical term to describe a spinning sensation of a person's surroundings, usually caused by head movement or positioning. This is the same feeling an individual might have after getting off a merry-go-round or spinning in place. Several diseases of the balance organs of the inner ear can cause vertigo, or it may be a symptom of a tumor or stroke.

What are the causes of dizziness?

Dizziness may be attributed to a wide variety of causes. Sometimes doctors find no specific diagnosis for the affected individual, but some causes of dizziness are dangerous. Some causes of dizziness include:

Dizziness caused by heart diseases or blood pressure problems

  • Heart attack, arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythms), heart rate too fast or slow
  • Weakened, aged, or diseased heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), toxins or drugs that affect the rate or force of the contractions of the heart
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure, which can have multiple causes including diseases of the heart, bleeding disorders that cause anemia, and adverse reactions to medications

Dizziness caused by brain diseases or conditions

  • Stroke, tumor, headaches, migraines,
  • Loss or decrease of blood supply to the brain, such as fainting (syncope or vasovagal syncope)
  • Dementia or confusion

Dizziness caused by medications

Almost all medications list dizziness as a possible side effect, but it is more common with some types of medicines
  • Blood pressure medications, diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, pain relievers, and some antibiotics.

Dizziness caused by metabolic disorders

  • Hypoxia (low blood oxygen)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia including an insulin reaction
  • Dehydration

Dizziness caused by aging

  • Reduced capacity for exercise or activity, weakness, and deconditioning
  • Reduced ability for the blood circulation to compensate for quickly assuming an upright position (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis)
  • Neuropathy (a progressive dysfunction of the nerves that is caused by different illnesses, especially diabetes)
  • Menopause
  • Poor eyesight and coordination
  • Dementia

Dizziness caused by psychiatric conditions

  • Depression, anxiety, or panic disorder
  • Hyperventilation is from breathing too fast or too deeply, usually from anxiety or metabolic disorders
  • Somatization is the conversion of a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, into physical symptoms. Often, the patient may be unaware of the underlying mental illness and insist they have only physical complaints.

Dizziness caused by other illness

  • Internal bleeding or hemorrhage
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Prolonged bed rest, causing weakness and loss of ability to compensate for assuming an upright position infections
  • Endocrine diseases in which hormone-producing organs such as the thyroid, adrenal glands, and pituitary gland affect hydration, salt balance, and function of other organs
  • Allergies may cause wheezing or low blood pressure, or can trigger sinusitis, which can result in dizziness.

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