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Dizziness: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2022

What is dizziness?

Dizziness is a term that is associated with the feeling of being woozy, unsteady, lightheaded or weak. The condition can sometimes result in fainting. Dizziness usually affects the eyes and ears.

The conditions that often lead to dizziness are disequilibrium and vertigo. Disequilibrium refers to the loss of balance. Vertigo is associated with spinning sensation. A person with vertigo may feel like the room is revolving.

Dizziness may also be associated with nausea or sometimes be so severe or sudden that you will need to lie down or just sit down somewhere. This episode usually lasts for seconds or even days and chances are it may recur.

Dizziness is rarely serious. Occasional dizziness usually resolves on it own. However, frequent bouts of dizziness can adversely impact the quality of life. Constant dizziness can also be an indicator of an underlying medical condition.

What is Dizziness a sign of?

Dizziness is a sensation of being weak, unsteady, or woozy. It may be related to nausea in some cases while it may point towards a serious health condition in some. It may be an indication of the following:

  • Disturbances in the inner ear
  • Motion sickness
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Infections
  • Injury
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Overheating as well as dehydration
Summary: Dizziness is not a serious health issue when it is short-lived and resolves itself. But in certain cases, it may be a sign of underlying health disorder such as inner ear disturbances, neurological abnormalities, infections, injury, poor blood circulation, etc.

Can Dizziness go away on its own?

Dizziness itself is a symptom of different diseases or abnormal health conditions. It usually gets resolved spontaneously over a certain interval of time. This happens in most of the cases which show dizziness to an extent of being mild or moderate. However, in severe cases, it does need medical care and attention with proper treatment plans under the supervision of a consultant.

When should you worry about Dizziness?

Dizziness is not a serious concern when accompanied by lightheadedness which is transient or short-lived. However, when it comes to the occurrence of some additional symptoms, it may be a serious concern. Some signs and symptoms related to Dizziness that can make us worry include the following:

  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Double vision
  • Trouble in walking
  • Stiffness in neck
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
Summary: Dizziness is normal and does not require medical treatment in most cases. But when symptoms like fever, chest pain, double vision, shortness of breath, vomiting, etc. are experienced during the condition, it becomes concerning.

How do you know if Dizziness is serious?

Dizziness may not be a serious concern when accompanied by normal symptoms like lightheadedness which resolves spontaneously. But it becomes concerning when it occurs in sudden, severe, recurrent, or prolonged forms. Some symptoms which can make Dizziness serious include:

  • Severe pain in the chest
  • Double vision
  • Sudden or severe forms of headache
  • Palpitations or arrhythmia
  • Tachycardia
  • Mental illness like confusion
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Frequent vomiting
Summary: Dizziness, in normal conditions, is short-lived and resolves itself. But it may become serious when accompanied by symptoms like severe and sudden chest pain, palpitations, rapid breathing, seizures, ongoing vomiting, etc.

What gets rid of Dizziness fast?

Dizziness can resolve itself in most cases without any need for medical care and attention. But in some cases, it may require treatment under the supervision of a doctor or physician. Some of the ways to get rid of it include:

  • Medication: This includes anti-anxiety medications, anticholinergic medicines, and medicines for migraines.
  • Lifestyle changes: This includes having sufficient sleep, taking adequate water or fluids, quitting alcohol and tobacco habits, and acupuncture.
  • Specific therapies: These include psychotherapy, balance therapy, and head position maneuvers.
Summary: Dizziness may be a serious concern when it is prolonged and recurrent. In such conditions, we need medical care and attention. Certain medications, lifestyle changes, and therapies are ways to get rid of them.

Is Dizziness a sign of a stroke?

Stroke is a condition associated with a decreased supply of blood to the brain or a part of it. Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms of stroke which is related to fainting or sudden fall without any visible cause.

Other symptoms of stroke may include numbness in the arm or leg, weakness all of a sudden, loss of balance, nausea, fever, chills, vomiting, blurred speech, or headache.

Summary: Dizziness is a common sign of stroke. Stroke is related to a decreased supply of oxygen in the brain, resulting in fainting, lightheadedness, or Dizziness.

Is Dizziness the same as vertigo?

Dizziness involves a wider range of sensations or feelings of being lightheaded, unsteady, woozy, or fainting. It is basically an unorganized spatial orientation or a distortion that may be related to a sense of loss of balance.

On the other hand, vertigo is a type of Dizziness that is characterized by spinning sensations in surroundings. It is a true sensation of self-movement or movements of surrounding things.

Summary: Dizziness differs from vertigo in a few aspects. Dizziness involves a wide range of sensations like lightheadedness, fainting, or unsteadiness, while vertigo is a type of Dizziness characterized by spinning sensations of self or surroundings.

What are the causes of dizziness?

Dizziness can be caused by multiple factors. Some of those are explained in detail below:

  • Vertigo: Vertigo is a condition that is characterised by a false or artificial sensation of spinning. A person experiencing vertigo may feel as if their surrounding environment is spinning or revolving. Vertigo is often caused by inner ear problems. These problems include:
    • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
    • Ménière’s disease
    • Labyrinthitis
  • Motion sickness: Being in a moving vehicle can cause disruptions in the working of the inner ear. This can sometimes lead to dizziness and nausea or vomiting. This condition is often referred to as "motion sickness". The condition generally revolves when the person starts walking on the normal ground.
  • Migraine: Migraine is a medical condition that is characterised by recurring headaches that cause intense pain on one side of the head. People with migraine are at increased risk of experiencing dizziness as the latter is one of the symptoms of migraine. Dizziness usually begins before the onset of the migraine pain.
  • Low blood pressure: Dizziness can result from a drastic or rapid decline in blood pressure. Sudden changes in blood pressure can be caused by low intake of water, loss of blood, pregnancy, or allergic reaction. Sitting or getting up can also result in a sudden fall in blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Atherosclerosis is a medical condition that causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries. The condition affects cardiovascular health and functioning and may cause dizziness. Dizziness can also be a warning sign of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Low iron: People with anaemia can experience a feeling of dizziness. Anaemia is a condition in which the body doesn't possess enough oxygen-rich blood due to iron deficiency.
  • Hypoglycemia: A person may experience dizziness when there is a more than a normal decline in blood glucose levels. The condition in which the body has low levels of blood glucose is referred to as Hypoglycemia. It may be caused by poor or inadequate diet, excess alcohol consumption, hormonal imbalance or intake of certain medications such as aspirin.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Stress stimulates the brain to release certain hormones that cause blood vessels to contract, increase in heart rate, and shallow breathing. All these responses together result in dizziness or lightheadedness. Similarly, stressful situations may cause an anxiety attack which can in turn trigger dizziness.

Can High BP cause Dizziness?

People suffering from high blood pressure may be asymptomatic in most cases. When it is left untreated or in case of delayed treatment, it increases the risks of some serious health conditions such as stroke and heart attack.

Stroke is accompanied by a reduced blood flow to the brain or a part of it, resulting in Dizziness or fainting. Thus, hypertension itself does not cause Dizziness but is indirectly responsible for it.

Summary: High blood pressure is not a direct cause of Dizziness, but it is linked indirectly to it. Stroke is a common complication of high BP, which leads to the decreased blood supply to the brain, causing Dizziness.

Can low iron cause Dizziness?

Low iron levels in the body can definitely cause Dizziness. Hemoglobin is the blood protein responsible for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body as well as the brain. Iron helps in the formation as well as the production of hemoglobin.

Thus, a low level of iron in our body can cause low hemoglobin levels, which in turn can cause anemia. Due to this, oxygen supply to the brain cells is decreased, resulting in Dizziness or lightheadedness.

Summary: Iron deficiency is directly related to anemia, which results in a decreased oxygen supply in the body and brain. Due to a low blood supply to the brain cells, Dizziness is caused.

How long can Dizziness last?

Dizziness is not a disease but a symptom of various diseases. It is accompanied by a sensation or feeling of lightheadedness or fainting which is short-lived. Duration of Dizziness may vary in different individuals with different health statuses.

However, it may last for a few seconds or a few minutes in most cases, while in some cases it may last longer.

Summary: Duration of Dizziness may vary in different conditions depending upon the health status of the individual. It may be a few seconds, a few minutes, or even longer in certain cases.

How is dizziness diagnosed?

A doctor will first ask you a certain question about the symptoms you are experiencing and the medications you may be taking. Some of the questions about dizziness may include:

  • When does it occur?
  • How severe are the symptoms
  • Common situational settings

The physician may then ask you to undergo a physical test. The purpose of the test will be to check your balance and the response of the central nervous system's major nerves while you walk.

Some of the other tests that you might be asked to undergo include:

  • Hearing test
  • Eye movement test
  • Head movement test
  • Posturography
  • Rotary chair testing

In addition to all these tests, the physician may also ask to get a blood test or other examinations to determine the state of your heart health. People suspected of having had a stroke or individuals who have suffered a hit on the head may be asked to undergo an MRI or CT scan immediately.

How is dizziness treated?

Dizziness usually resolves on its own without requiring any medical treatment. The body adapts itself to the factors that may be contributing to the feeling of dizziness. Dizziness caused by factors such as excessive exercise, heat, or dehydration can be self-managed by increasing intake of water and other hydrating fluids.

However, if frequent spells of dizziness occur due to an underlying medication condition, treatment might become necessary. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment for dizziness may include the following:

  • People with Inner-ear issues may be prescribed certain medications and at-home exercises that can help restore balance.
  • If the cause of dizziness is benign positional vertigo (BPV), a physician may perform head position manoeuvres (also referred to as canalith repositioning or Epley manoeuvre)
  • For people with Meniere’s disease, a water pill (diuretic) may be prescribed along with a low sodium diet
  • If the cause of dizziness is migraine, then certain medications and lifestyle changes may be prescribed to identify and avoid the triggers of migraine attacks
  • For dizziness induced by anxiety, medications such as Diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) may be prescribed. Anticholinergics like scopolamine skin patches (Transderm Scop) also reduce dizziness.
  • For certain conditions (involving inner ear) causing dizziness, administration of injection (gentamicin) and surgical removal (labyrinthectomy) can be considered.
  • Meclizine (Antivert) is a part of antihistamines which offer a short-term relief from vertigo.
  • Therapeutic measures like balance therapy makes you learn certain exercises to make your body’s balance system less sensitive to spinning or motion. This physical therapy is known as vestibular rehabilitation. It is usually used for those with vestibular neuritis condition of the inner ear which causes dizziness.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

A person is eligible for treatment of dizziness if he/she experiences some or all of the symptoms associated with it. A doctor will determine whether a person is suffering from vertigo or not by means of a physical examination and checking the patient’s medical history.

A person may also be advised to undergo an MRI or CT scan. Thus, a person will only be eligible for treatment after he/she has been properly diagnosed by a doctor.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

A person who does not suffer from the symptoms of dizziness is not eligible for treatment. A person affected by Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is not suited to undergo the vestibular rehabilitation. Epley manouevre requires some head exercises to be done.

A person who has a serious head/neck injury is not eligible for this treatment. A person needs to consult a doctor before understanding whether he/she is eligible to take medications like antihistamine and prochlorperazine.

What are the risk factors of getting dizziness?

There are certain factors that are associated with an increased risk of feeling dizzy. Some of those include:

  • People over 50 years
  • History of head injury
  • Being a woman
  • Family history of vertigo patients
  • Medication regimen that includes antidepressants or antipsychotics
  • Medical condition that affects balance
  • History of feeling dizzy or fainting episodes

Are there any side effects?

The side-effects of vestibular rehabilitation therapy include dizziness, muscle fatigue, sedation, weakness, and unsteadiness and falls that may sometimes amplify the disorder. Epley manoeuvre does not have any serious side-effects. However, a small fraction of the patients who have undergone his treatment have experienced transient nausea while fewer people have experienced vomiting.

Prochlorperazine has a number of side-effects like dizziness, drowsiness, sleep disorders, constipation, swelling of breasts, weight gain and missing of menstrual period for women. Antihistamine’s side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, vision problems, confusion and problems in urination.

How to prevent Dizziness?

A healthy and stress-free mode of lifestyle is a way to prevent dizziness. Some of the important ways for the control and management of dizziness include the following:

  • Adequate hydration of the body by consuming sufficient amounts of water.
  • Reducing the signs of stress and anxiety in one’s mind.
  • Getting sufficient sleep.
  • Reduced consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine sources.
  • Decreased intake of salt-rich food items.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can do in order to get read of dizziness causing havoc in your daily life. After getting the treatment, there are certain things to be kept in mind. Have plenty of rest, keep yourself hydrated at all times and have regular meals.

In case you are feeling dizzy again, lie down immediately. Make your home safe in order to deal with chronic dizziness. This is done by keeping a cane, walker, tub mats, and banisters that may help the patient by avoiding injury. An anxious person who suffers from dizziness can be helped by some reassurance.

What are the complications involved in getting dizziness?

Some of the complications involving dizziness include increased likelihood of a fall or an injury. Dizziness can also increase the risk of an accident while driving or operating heavy machinery. It may also adversely affect the quality of life in the long term if the underlying condition contributing to dizziness is not diagnosed and treated.

How long does it take to recover?

The medications for dizziness are harmless and the symptoms usually go away in about a week to 6 weeks. Thereafter, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent complications and recurrence.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of diagnosis along with the visit to a doctor will range between Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 4,000. On the other hand, the cost of treatment will range between Rs. 150 to Rs. 500.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment can never be permanent without actually altering your usual lifestyle measures. You need to be conscious about your mental and physical health and carry on with regular exercise along with proper diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What to eat in Dizziness?

It is important for us to know about the food items which are preferred to be taken in dizziness. Some of those include:

  • Sources with low glycemic indices such as dried fruits, peanut butter, celery, and whole-grain products.
  • Protein like chicken, barley, and fish which are lean.
  • Taking Fresh fruits.
  • Consuming sufficient vegetables.
  • Sources of vitamin C such as broccoli, citrus fruits, and spinach.

What not to eat in Dizziness?

Some of the food items which are not preferred to be taken in case of dizziness include:

  • Foods with a high-salt content.
  • Sugar-rich diet such as cold drinks and soda.
  • Caffeine in excess.
  • Nicotine or tobacco smoking.
  • Processed or junk foods.
  • Alcohol in excess.
  • fried foods.
  • Fermented eatables like pickles.
  • Bread and pastries.

Should I go to urgent care for Dizziness?

Dizziness gets resolved itself in most cases while in some cases it may require urgent medical care and attention. Such conditions are accompanied by the following conditions:

  • Prolonged dizziness - it means dizziness persists for a longer duration.
  • The state of dizziness is not overcome even by following precautionary measures such as adequate hydration and reduced intake of caffeine.
  • When dizziness is related to a sudden rise.
  • Presence of difficulty in walking.
  • Feeling of nausea.

What vitamin deficiency can cause Dizziness?

The deficiency of vitamin B12 may be a cause of Dizziness. This particular vitamin is related to the formation and production of red blood cells. Any deficiency in the same can lead to a decreased level of red blood cells in the body. This causes impairment in oxygen transportation all over the body.

Megaloblastic anemia is caused specifically in such conditions which are accompanied by the formation of large and immature red blood cells. A decreased number of healthy RBCs lead to the symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and Dizziness.

Summary: Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation and maturation of red blood cells, preventing anemia-like conditions. Hence, its deficiency can cause a decreased blood supply to the brain, resulting in Dizziness.

What should I eat for Dizziness?

Diet does not play any direct role to treat Dizziness-like conditions. It is important to maintain overall health, hence indirectly can help in a faster recovery from such conditions. Some of the food items to be preferred in such conditions include:

  • Foods with a low glycemic index: Nuts, wholegrain oats as well as bread, dried fruits, celery, peanut butter, etc. are included in this category.
  • Lean protein: Examples of lean proteins are skinless chicken, fish, quinoa, and barley. These help to maintain an appropriate blood sugar level.
  • Iron-rich foods: Almonds, dates, tofu, lentils, asparagus, and leafy vegetables are some of the rich sources of iron. These are needed to prevent anemia-like conditions.
  • Vitamin C sources: Food items like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C. It helps in the absorption of iron.
Summary: Although diet has no direct role in preventing Dizziness, it is important to take a healthy diet to ensure better health. Iron and vitamin C is essential for maintaining a proper energy level of the body, thus preventing Dizziness.

Are bananas good for Dizziness?

Banana is rich in an essential mineral i.e potassium. An imbalance in the amount of fluid in the inner ear leads to Dizziness. Potassium, which acts as a vasodilator, decreases the tension within the excessive fluid in the inner ear.

This helps to prevent Dizziness-like symptoms. Hence, it is important to consume potassium-rich food items such as bananas to control and manage Dizziness.

Summary: Banana, being rich in potassium, helps to maintain tension within the fluid of the inner ear. This helps to prevent Dizziness which relates to the excessive inner-ear fluid causing an imbalance.

Does lemon help with Dizziness?

Lemon is an effective remedy against Dizziness. It is rich in vitamin C which helps to boost the immune system. It provides adequate fluids to the body, thus maintaining proper hydration. Due to these properties, it enhances energy levels of the body and prevents fainting or lightheadedness-like symptoms.

The presence of vitamin C increases iron absorption which is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, an oxygen transporter in the blood. It enables our body to provide a sufficient oxygen supply throughout it, including the brain. Thus, lemon minimizes the risks of Dizziness.

Summary: Being rich in vitamin C, lemon enhances iron absorption in the body, thus increasing the formation of hemoglobin. Thus, it ensures adequate oxygen supply throughout the body and brain as well, preventing Dizziness-like conditions.

What are the natural ways to treat dizziness?

Some of the natural ways to treat dizziness include:

  • Foods and nutrients: Certain foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and Iron can provide relief from dizziness. Ginger is particularly helpful against dizziness.
  • Self-awareness: This can help prevent dizziness to a great extent. Self-awareness involves identification of triggers that result in dizziness and avoiding those triggers.
  • Acupuncture: According to studies, acupuncture may help provide therapeutic relief from dizziness.
  • Physical Therapy: Vestibular rehabilitation can help improve balance and reduce the risk of dizziness.
  • Increase water intake: Dehydration can lead to dizziness. Drinking to 8-10 glasses of water a day can help avoid dehydration. It is also recommended to avoid or reduce the intake of diuretics like caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and tobacco to reduce the risk of dehydration and dizziness.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Dizziness:

Dizziness, referred to as vertigo, is a state or symptom which is associated with a feeling of being spinning in a static condition or the same with the surroundings. However, it may be controlled and managed by incorporating some form of exercises in our daily routine which include some form of exercises such as Brandt Daroff exercises, Semont Maneuver, Epley Maneuver, and Foster Maneuver. It is advised to do physical activity and exercises after taking advice from a doctor.

Summary: Dizziness, referred to as vertigo, is a state or symptom which is associated with a feeling of being spinning in a static condition or the same with the surroundings. A healthy and stress-free mode of lifestyle is a way to prevent dizziness. It gets resolved itself in most of the cases while in some cases it may require urgent medical care and attention.


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Written ByDr. S.Sagin Raj Diploma in Diabetology,CCRH (certificate in reproductive health),MBBS,F.F.M(family medicine)General Physician
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