Dizziness (Dizzy) (cont.)

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What are the symptoms experienced when a person feels dizzy?

  • Lightheadedness is the feeling of weakness and faintness as if you are about to pass out. The symptoms tend to be short-lived, depending on the cause. There may be associated nausea, sweating, and blurred vision.
  • If the cause is dehydration or bleeding, the symptoms may worsen by standing quickly and may resolve somewhat by lying down (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Heart rhythm disturbances may occur without warning and may be associated with palpitations. This may come and go or it may persist. The heart beat may be felt as too fast (often described as a pounding or fluttering), too slow, and/or irregular.
  • Vertigo is the sensation of spinning and may present without warning and be associated with nausea and vomiting. People with inner ear problems may be debilitated and unable to move without generating symptoms.
  • People with a cerebellar cause of vertigo such as a stroke or tumor may have associated coordination problems or difficulty walking.

When should I call the doctor for dizziness?

Dizziness is a common complaint and often has resolved by the time the patient arrives to see a health care professional. Usually there is no rush to seek care. However, while the complaint of dizziness is not often an emergency, care should be sought immediately if it is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations. These symptoms should not be ignored as they suggest the heart may be the source of the dizziness.
  • Dehydration. Often there may be an associated illness including fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • People with diabetes may have dizziness due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), and may need emergent care to stabilize their insulin and medication requirements.
  • Bleeding from any source.
  • Altered mental status or thinking. This may include symptoms such as confusion, change in vision, change in speech, facial droop, weakness of one side of the body, or headache. These may be signs of stroke, bleeding in the brain, or tumor.
  • Vertigo may cause significant problems with vomiting and may be debilitating. Often, medical care is needed to control symptoms even though the underlying problem is not serious.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/24/2014

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