Dizziness is very common, but it can be hard to describe. Dizziness is often used to describe a vague sensation of feeling off-balance or of movement. Dizziness can also be described as lightheaded, spaced out, unsteady, or faint.
Dizziness can be often be narrowed down by describing what you feel when it happens. Types of dizziness include:
Dizziness may be the result of an underlying health condition, medications, or unknown cause. The specific type of dizziness and/or any other symptoms may help determine the cause.
Vertigo may be caused by:
Disequilibrium may be caused by:
Lightheadedness may be caused by:
Presyncope may be caused by:
Dizziness can cause you to feel off balance and increase your risk of falls and injury. To reduce your chance of injury:
When you start to feel dizzy, slowly sit or lie down until the feeling passes.
Call your doctor for:
Call for emergency medical services right away for:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dizziness—differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 16, 2011. Accessed April 28, 2014.
Dizziness and vertigo. The Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/approach-to-the-patient-with-ear-problems/dizziness-and-vertigo. Updated October 2013. Accessed April 28, 2014.
Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: A diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(4):361-368.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Fabienne Daguilh, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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