Dizziness is a sensation people experience that renders them feeling faint, woozy, weak, or unsteady. Dizziness can vary both in duration and severity, and can be a symptom of a number of concerning medical conditions or diseases. While the majority of bouts of dizziness faded quickly and isn’t considered serious, experiencing dizziness is a common symptom for people to visit their medical provider.
Not sure what is causing your to feel dizzy? This post will provide you with an overview of the causes and risk factors for dizziness, as well as how medical providers diagnose and treat dizziness.
Dizziness can be used to describe a number of sensations including feeling faint, a sensation that the room is spinning or generally feeling weak. When you become dizzy, you experience a false sense of motion. A sensation of room spinning is called vertigo. We get our sense of balance from our sensory system, specifically our eyes, sensory nerves, and our inner ear. . These sensory tools tell us where our body is in space. A problem with any part of this sensory system can send incorrect signals to the brain and cause dizziness.
Dizziness becomes more common with age. Older people are more likely to suffer from underlying medical problems that can cause dizziness such as blood pressure problems, heart problems or diabetes.
Causes of Dizziness
Vertigo is a false sense of spinning. This is most commonly causes by an inner ear problem. The inner ear is tasked with detecting gravity and back or forth motion. When it does, the inner ear will send messages to our brain, which then notifies the rest of our body, to brace for motion. When this fails, the message gets sent to prepare for motion, though there is no motion to prepare for. The disorientation of this error results in a spinning sensation.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition that causes an intense and brief but false sense that you're spinning or moving. These episodes are triggered by a rapid change in head movement, such as when you turn over in bed, sit up, or experience a blow to the head. BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo.
Ear Infection (Vestibular Neuritis)
An infection of the nerve in the ear can also cause a bout of dizziness. Ear infections are viral infections that affect the nerve within the ear. There are a few different types of ear infections, but the one that most often brings about symptoms of dizziness or vertigo is called vestibular neuritis. This type of dizziness is often described as intense and constant and may be associated with hearing loss.
Meniere’s disease occurs when there is an excessive buildup of fluid in your inner ear. Sudden episodes of vertigo lasting as long as several hours are one of its symptoms. Feeling a ringing sensation in your ears or brief lapses in hearing are other symptoms that indicate Meniere’s disease.
People who suffer from migraine headaches may also experience episodes of dizziness. The symptoms of dizziness will typically only last for a few minutes, but can last for hours during severe headaches.
Lowered Blood Pressure
A dramatic drop in your blood pressure can result in lightheadedness or feeling faint. Sometimes, it can also cause dizziness, or a sensation of spinning. If you stand up too quickly after sitting for a while, your blood pressure will momentarily drop, and you may feel dizzy. Medications that potentially affect your blood pressure (Antidepressants, sedatives, diuretics(water pills), muscle relaxants or pain medications) can also cause dizziness.
Dizziness can be brought about from any condition that features blood circulation issues such as cardiomyopathy, heart attack, heart arrhythmia, and strokes.
Low blood sugar can bring about bouts of dizziness. People who use insulin for their diabetes are especially susceptible.
Diagnosing and Treating Dizziness & Vertigo
As you gleaned from above, there are many causes of dizziness. If your symptoms of dizziness are recurrent or persist for sizeable periods of time, you should consult a medical provider to pin down the specific cause of your symptoms.
If you experience dizziness with one of the following symptoms, you should seek emergent medical attention:
- Severe or sudden headache
- Vision changes
- Trouble with speech
- Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
- Chest pain, shortness of breath or irregular heart rate or fainting
- Trouble walking
- Persistent vomiting
A medical provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and will conduct a series of tests that will potentially identify the cause of your symptoms. Testing may include:
- Eye movement testing: A medical provider will observe the path of your eyes when you track a moving object such as a pen or finger.
- Head movement testing: If your provider suspects that your dizziness is caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, he or she may conduct a head movement test called the Dix-Hallpike maneuver to verify the diagnosis.
- Posturography: This test informs your provider which parts of your balance system you rely on the most, and which parts may be giving you problems. The test is conducted by having the subject stand on their bare feet and try to keep their balance under various conditions.
- Rotary-Chair testing: During this test you sit in a computer-controlled chair that moves very slowly in a full circle. At faster speeds, it moves back and forth in a very small arc.
After the testing is completed and the medical provider has identified the cause of dizziness or vertigo, they will provide you with a treatment plan designed to treat the cause of your dizziness. To prevent experiencing further symptoms, it’s recommended that you try and avoid sudden movements. When getting out of bed in the morning or rising after periods of being idle, it’s recommended that you rise slowly.
Treat Dizziness at the Urgency Room
If you’re experiencing bouts of dizziness, come and see us at The Urgency Room to discover what is causing it. With convenient locations situated off of major highways running through the Twin Cities, coming to our Woodbury, Vadnais Heights or Eagan locations is an easy trip. By coming to The Urgency Room, you won’t have to sit in the waiting room as your symptoms worsen. You can check out live waiting room times at each location here.