The symptom of dizziness is the second most common health complaint. (Lower back pain is number one.)
About forty percent of adults seek professional help for dizziness at least once in their lives. If you spin around rapidly, you’ll get dizzy. That’s normal. But if you have a spinning sensation when you are getting up or lying down, that’s abnormal. Dizziness could be an issue in that situation.
Dizziness can be caused by many different health disorders. It’s a fairly common side effect of medications. It can be caused by trauma to the head or neck. Sometimes the middle ear is the source of the problem. Ears are used for hearing, but ears also sense head movements and ear disorders can make you dizzy. Ear problems that can lead to dizziness include fluid imbalances, infections, and degenerative diseases.
The symptoms of dizziness may be manifested differently for different people. Some people feel lightheaded. Some feel like they are spinning, or the world is spinning (this type of dizziness is called “vertigo”). Others have no abnormal feelings at all, but lose their balance when they stand or walk. Sometimes dizziness comes in cycles, with little or no dizziness between bouts. Sometimes it comes on rapidly and gradually gets better. Sometimes you hardly notice it at first and then it keeps getting worse. Dizziness can get so strong it makes you feel seasick, with nausea and vomiting.
Sometimes dizziness comes from problems inside the brain. Brain disorders include tumors, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, and some infections. Dizziness can be caused by blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also be caused by general health problems, such as vitamin deficiency, diabetes, anemia, and immune system diseases.
Some of these abnormalities can be serious. Fortunately, serious disorders are rare and less-serious disorders are more common. You should be relieved to know that severe dizziness doesn’t always indicate a serious disorder. Some serious disorders cause mild dizziness and some mild disorders cause severe dizziness. Some health issues that lead to dizziness don’t require any treatment. They go away by themselves. Other disorders are more stubborn and may require medical intervention.
You should see your doctor about your dizziness, even if it appears to be improving. If you are seeing a caregiver for the first time, you will also be asked about other present or historical health issues, about health problems in your family, and about your lifestyle. Your doctor can often find out what’s wrong even if you’re not actually dizzy at the time of your visit. If your dizziness is truly frightening, you may choose to go to the emergency room.
Your doctor will ask several important questions. What kind of dizziness are you experiencing? When did it start? How serious does it get? Is it constant or does it come in cycles? Are there particular circimstances that lead to it? What makes it better? What makes it worse? What other symptoms accompany it?
If your health practitioner needs more information in order to make a diagnosis, he may draw some blood and send it to the lab for analysis and may schedule other tests and ask you to return for a follow-up visit after test results come back. If your doctor finds a benign cause for your dizziness or sees no signs of a serious problem, he will describe the test results, what they mean and tell you what can be done about your problem. That’s usually what happens. Your doctor will begin treatment (if any is available) and send you home and ask you to return for a follow-up visit and to call if your dizziness recurs or gets worse.
If your doctor finds evidence of a serious disorder, he may send you to a specialist. The specialist will perform a more extensive physical examination, ask further questions, and may refer you for more tests. In rare cases of serious illness, he may admit you to the hospital.
Most dizziness disorders are treatable. If dizziness happens to be a side effect of medication, changing the dosage or substituting another medication usually solves the problem. Many illnesses can be treated with medication, surgery, diet, a change in lifestyle, or a combination of these things.