The principal sensations that characterize dizziness and nausea – including loss of balance, wooziness, vertigo, fainting – can aid in the search for potential causes.
1. Loss of balance (disequilibrium). Disequilibrium is the loss of balance or feeling of unsteadiness as soon as you walk. Causes might include:
(a) Dizzy sensations, for example floating, spinning or lightheadedness. Other dizziness sensations that are far more difficult to describe may include feeling “spaced out” or having the sensation of spinning inside your head.
(b) Joint and muscle issues. Muscle weakness and arthritis – the nature of arthritis that involves wear and tear of the joints can lead to reduction of balance when it involves your weight-bearing joints.
(c) Neurological conditions. Numerous neurological disorders can lead to advanced loss of balance, including Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, normal pressure hydrocephalus and spinal cord disorders.
(d) Inner ear (vestibular) issues. Abnormalities with your inner ear can cause you to feel dizziness and nausea, especially in the dark.
(e) Sensory disorders. Failing vision and nerve damage in your legs (peripheral neuropathy) are common in older adults and might cause difficulty preserving your balance.
(f) Medicines. Loss of balance can be a side effect of certain pharmaceutical treatments, including anti-seizure drugs, sedatives and tranquilizers.
(g) Internal ear disorders. Some internal ear abnormalities can lead to persistent, non-vertigo-type dizziness.
(h) Anxiety diagnoses. Certain anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks, as well as a fear of being away from home or being in big, open spaces (agoraphobia), may cause dizziness. Sometimes one cause – including a vestibular disorder – might produce signs, however anxiety causes your dizziness to persist even after your inner ear problem has gone away.1. Vertigo. Vertigo typically results from a problem with the nerves and the tissues of the balance mechansim in your internal ear (vestibular system), which sense motion and changes in your head position. Sitting up or walking around may make it worse. Sometimes vertigo is serious enough to result in nausea, vomiting and imbalance.
2. Causes of vertigo may include:
(a) Migrainous vertigo. Migraine is more than a headache disorder. While some people experience a visual “aura” with their migraines, others can get vertigo episodes and have different kinds of dizziness and nausea between migraines.
(b) Inner ear swelling. Indicators and symptoms of swelling of your internal ear (acute vestibular neuritis) include the rapid onset of vertigo that may linger for many days, along with nausea, vomiting and imbalance. It can be incapacitating, needing bed rest. When diagnosed with sudden hearing reduction, this condition is called labyrinthitis. Fortunately, vestibular neuritis typically clears up on its own.
(c) Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV causes sharp, quick episodes of vertigo when you move your ehad sharply, for example when you turn over in bed or sit up each morning. BPPV is among the most common causes of vertigo.
(d) Meniere’s disease. This disease involves the excessive buildup of liquid in your inner ear. It happens to be an abnormal condition that may affect adults at any age and is characterized by sudden episodes of vertigo that range from 30 minutes to several hours.
(e) Acoustic neuroma. An acoustic neuroma is a benign growth (not cancer) on the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to your brain. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma generally include progressive hearing reduction and tinnitus on one side accompanied by dizziness and nausea or imbalance.
(f) Other causes. On rare occasions, vertigo can be a symptom of more serious neurological issues including stroke, brain hemorrhage or multiple sclerosis. In these cases, different neurological signs are usually present, including double vision, slurred speech, facial weakness or numbness, limb coordination, or severe balance issues.
3. Feeling of faintness (wooziness or presyncope). Presyncope is the clinical phrase for feeling faint and lightheaded without losing consciousness. Sometimes dizziness and nausea, pale skin and clamminess accompany a feeling of faintness. Causes of presyncope include:
(a) Insufficient volume of blood from the heart. Conditions include some of the various illnesses of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), or perhaps a decrease in blood volume trigger inadequate blood flow from your heart.
(b) Drop in hypertension (orthostatic hypotension). A serious drop in your systolic hypertension – the higher number in your blood pressure reading – might result in lightheadedness, dizziness and nausea, or a sense of faintness. It can occur after sitting up or standing too rapidly.
Please check with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these serious symptoms of dizziness and nausea. The causes are often benign, but it never hurts to be safe.