Dizziness is 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. .
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.
Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: A diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(4):361-368.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 8/8/2021