cause of dizziness
Although not a typical symptom of COVID-19, neurological symptoms, such as dizziness, are associated with coronavirus infection.

Neither the World Health Organization nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mention dizziness in their listed typical COVID-19 symptoms. However, many authentic and conclusive studies have reported that neurological symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo are associated with COVID-19.

COVID-19 can cause a vast number of symptoms including fever, cough, and fatigue that are most often reported. However, less common neurological symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo are important to be aware of, especially in people with other severe illnesses.

Dizziness in COVID-19 is a feeling or sensation of:

According to research published in the Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, almost 30 percent of people with COVID-19 have or will develop dizziness.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus—a member of a large family of viruses called coronaviruses.

The majority of people infected with coronavirus develop mild to moderate respiratory illnesses that recover without any treatment. However, coronavirus can cause serious complications in the elderly and people with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and cancer.

What causes dizziness in COVID-19?

Although the exact mechanism is still unknown, some of the speculated potential reasons could be as follows:

  • High fever that causes hypotension and dehydration
  • An immune reaction (production of cytokines) caused in response to the viral infection
  • Nerve tissue infection (cranial or vestibular nerves)
  • Nerve tissue damage due to hypoxia (decreased or inadequate oxygen supply to the brain), a hallmark of the disease
  • Disrupted balance circuits present in the brain and the inner ear
  • Hypercoagulability (excessive blood clotting)
  • Severe drop in blood pressure due to a proinflammatory state, causing impaired circulation and oxygenation of vital organs

When do dizzy spells occur in COVID-19?

Data about neurological symptoms during COVID-19 are still limited, but according to recent studies, researchers claim that symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo (often associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, and visual disturbances) are reported in the earlier phase (at the onset of disease), during the recovery period, and as part of long-haul symptoms of COVID-19.

Long COVID-19 and dizziness

The severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms vary from person to person, but a few symptoms tend to last longer and extend into the recovery period, known as long COVID-19 or long-haul COVID-19.

It is estimated that 80 percent of people with COVID-19 have one or more lingering symptoms. Long COVID-19 increases the risk of long-term problems that could linger for months after the initial infection.

Neurological symptoms, such as dizziness, are potential symptoms of long COVID-19.

Other reported neurological symptoms may include:

Other causes of dizziness (other than COVID-19)

Dizziness is an impairment of spatial orientation.

It is a common experience and could be a sign of multiple diseases (other than COVID-19) such as:

Other symptoms of COVID-19

If dizziness cannot be explained by other causes, consider taking the COVID-19 test and look for additional symptoms such as:

How do you calm dizzy spells?

Dizziness may or may not be related to COVID-19.

Follow these simple steps to relieve dizziness:

  1. Take a seat or lie down immediately
  2. Close your eyes until you feel better
  3. Be careful while moving (getting up from bed)
  4. Do not drive
  5. Take rest
  6. Avoid rapid movements
  7. Avoid prolong standing
  8. Elevate the feet (Trendelenburg position)
  9. Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated

When to see a doctor for post-COVID-19 dizziness

Seek medical attention if:

  • Dizziness is severe, constant, or worsening.
  • There are unexplained fainting episodes.
  • You experience tinnitus or hearing loss.
  • There are other neurological problems such as facial or leg weakness, facial drooping, and difficulty talking or swallowing.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/10/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Dizziness and COVID-19 NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7492824/

If you are experiencing dizziness Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/vestibular/dizzy-now.html