Causes of Dizziness

Causes of dizziness range from minor disorders to life-threatening causes. The cause may relate to the ear (balance organs), the brain, nervous system, or other causes.

Dizziness vs Vertigo: The first step is to determine whether it is true dizziness, versus vertigo. The sensation of vertigo is where a person perceives motion, such as a spinning room or lateral motion. Dizziness means the feeling of lightheadedness, rather than of motion.

Vertigo: Some of the causes of vertigo include:

There are other causes, so see the: Causes of Vertigo.

Acute Dizziness: Some of the causes of acute dizziness include:

Neurological Disorders: Head and Brain disorders causing dizziness include:

Circulatory Disorder Causes: Various circulatory disorders that cause dizziness or faintness include:

Hypoxia and Dizziness: Respiratory disorders may cause dizziness from lack of oxygen:

Mental Health Disorders: Mental health causes may include:

Ear Disorders: The various ear disorders that may cause dizziness or vertigo include:

Other Disorders: Other causes of dizziness include:

Similar Symptoms: See also the causes of symptoms similar to dizziness, such as:



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Back to: « Dizziness

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Balance system - Problems in your balance system can cause dizziness along with ringing in your ears or vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation of either spinning or having things spin around you.

Brain - Dizziness can result from decreased oxygen to the brain. This can be caused by blood clots and bleeding, or spasms in the vessels of the brain. This type of dizziness may also be caused by multiple sclerosis.

Heart and circulation - Dizziness may be caused when your blood pressure doesn’t adjust quickly enough to changes in posture (like when you stand up suddenly). This means less blood (and therefore oxygen) is getting to your brain for a short time.

  • You might feel faint, look pale and want to sit down.
  • Your vision may darken and in rare cases you may lose consciousness.

More serious causes of dizziness include sudden or long-term blood loss, heart disease, drug reactions, infection, anaemia or metabolic disorders.

Psychological problems - A person can feel light-headed from hyperventilation, severe anxiety or depression. Up to 20% of cases of dizziness may be caused by psychological problems.

Source: New Zealand Health1

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Causes of dizziness

If you have other symptoms, this might give you an idea of the cause. Don't self-diagnose - see a GP if you're worried.

Source: NHS Choices UK2

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Dizziness while you're ill with something else

Dizziness often goes away after you're treated for something else. For example:

Source: NHS Choices UK3

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Dizziness for no obvious reason

Dizziness symptoms -- Possible causes

  • When standing or sitting up suddenly -- sudden drop in blood pressure (postural hypotension)
  • Feeling off-balance, losing some hearing, ringing or other sounds in your ears (tinnitus) -- inner-ear problems
  • Feeling off-balance or like things are spinning, feeling or being sick, sometimes after a cold or flu -- labyrinthitis
  • After starting new prescription medicine -- side effect of medication
  • With symptoms like hearing loss, double vision, blurred vision, numb face, arms or legs -- decreased blood flow to the brain, possibly from clogged arteries (atherosclerosis)

Source: NHS Choices UK4

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What causes vertigo

Inner ear problems, which affect balance, are the most common causes:

Other things that can cause vertigo:

Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Source: NHS Choices UK5

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Inner ear infection: Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis are infections of the inner ear that cause symptoms including dizziness.

Source: Queensland Health6

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Heart attack: Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness

Unlike in the movies, most heart attacks do not make you pass out right away. Instead, you may suddenly feel dizzy or light-headed.

If you have any one of these symptoms and it lasts for more than five minutes, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care. Even if your symptoms go away in less than five minutes, call your doctor right away—it could be a sign that a heart attack is coming soon. Don't waste time trying home remedies or waiting for the feelings to pass on their own. Remember, quick treatment can save your life.

Source: OWH (DHHS)7

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Meniere’s disease: Researchers still aren't entirely sure what causes the roaring in the ears and the dizziness of Ménière's disease

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)8

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Mastocytosis: The most common symptoms experienced during an episode are:

Source: NHS Choices UK9

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Multiple sclerosis: MS can make walking and moving around difficult, particularly if you also have muscle weakness and spasticity (see above). You may experience:

Source: NHS Choices UK10

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Multiple system atrophy: Someone with multiple system atrophy will often feel lightheaded, dizzy and faint after standing up. This is known as postural hypotension and is caused by a drop in blood pressure when they stand upright.

Source: NHS Choices UK11

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Postural tachycardia syndrome: Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) is an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing. It typically causes dizziness, fainting and other symptoms.

Source: NHS Choices UK12

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Vestibular neuronitis: The most common symptoms of vestibular neuronitis are dizziness and vertigo - the sensation that you, or everything around you, is moving. This may cause you to feel nauseous or be sick, have difficulty concentrating and blurred vision.

Source: NHS Choices UK13

Causes List for Dizziness

List of possible causes of Dizziness or similar symptoms may include:14

... Full Causes List for Dizziness »

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References

  1. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ diseases-and-illnesses/ dizziness
  2. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ dizziness/ 
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ Vertigo/ 
  6. Source: Queensland Health: conditions.health.qld.gov.au/ HealthCondition/ condition/ 10/ 147/ 434/ labyrinthitis
  7. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ heartattack/ symptoms.html
  8. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ fall13/ articles/ fall13pg7.html
  9. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ mastocytosis/ symptoms/ 
  10. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ multiple-sclerosis/ symptoms/ 
  11. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ multiple-system-atrophy/ 
  12. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ postural-tachycardia-syndrome/ 
  13. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ vestibular-neuronitis/ 
  14. Source: Algorithmically Generated List

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.