What causes dizziness?
Dizziness can be a range of sensations including feeling light-headed, faint, woozy, unsteady or off-balance. Vertigo is a type of dizziness that feels as though you or your surroundings are spinning.
Dizziness is often caused by illnesses that affect the inner ear, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), migraine and inflammation of the inner ear balance apparatus (called vestibular neuritis).
Dizziness may also be caused by low blood pressure, some heart problems (such as cardiac arrhythmias), anxiety disorders such as panic attacks or (uncommonly) by hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
While some people understandably find it difficult to describe their dizziness, a description of a person’s dizziness and the circumstances in which it occurs may be very helpful in reaching a diagnosis.
A wide range of conditions and diseases can cause dizziness, including:
Inner ear problems – disorders of the inner ear account for about half of all cases of persistent (ongoing) dizziness. Such disorders include Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vestibular neuritis
Anxiety disorders – stress or anxiety may play a role in causing dizziness or, more commonly, may be a contributing factor in dizziness from other causes, such as inner ear disease
Brain disorders – a common cause of dizziness is migraine, even without the headache that most people associate with a migraine. Very rarely, other causes of dizziness can include stroke or other brain diseases
Spinal problems – misaligned bones in your neck interfere with your nervous system that controls your balance
Other conditions – some cases of dizziness are due to underlying medical conditions such as low blood pressure, infection, some heart problems (such as cardiac arrhythmias) and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Medications that are used to treat conditions such as epilepsy, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure can also cause dizziness in some people.
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