Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
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
If the cause is dehydration or
bleeding, the symptoms
may worsen by standing quickly and may resolve somewhat by lying down
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:
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.
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD on 11/14/2013