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Dizziness, Nonvertigo

Dizziness, Nonvertigo

Definition

Dizziness may cause you to feel light-headed or weak. You may feel like you are going to faint. Dizziness can happen for a short period or be a long-lasting condition that gets in the way of your daily activities. It is different from vertigo, which is a feeling that the room is spinning or rotating while you are still.

Causes

Many conditions can cause dizziness such as:

  • A drop in blood pressure when standing—orthostatic hypotension
  • Neurological conditions
  • Conditions that affect how the heart pumps blood to the body
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Alcohol use disorder or illicit drug use
  • Infection or fever
  • Brain injury
  • Low blood sugar—hypoglycemia
  • Anemia

Prescription medications can also cause dizziness. These may include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Nitrates
  • Antipsychotics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Blood Flow to the Brain
Nucleus factsheet image
In some cases, dizziness may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Dizziness is a symptom that may be caused by another condition. There are no specific risk factors for dizziness.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the type of dizziness you have. Common symptoms include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Imbalance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Heart palpitations

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure measurements

Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

The electrical activity of your heart may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Other tests may include:

  • Tilt table test
  • Hearing and vision tests

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the dizziness. If your dizziness is caused by a condition, the treatment may help reduce symptoms. Examples include:

Cause Treatment

Orthostatic hypotension Medication, lifestyle, and dietary changes
Motion sickness Medication and lifestyle changes
Anxiety disorder or other mental health condition Therapy and medication
Infection Antibiotic or antiviral medication
Dizziness due to medication that you are taking Changes to your medication
Imbalance Physical therapy to build strength and balance

Prevention

To help prevent dizziness:

  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Avoid bending down or extending your neck.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and using illicit drugs.
  • Maintain proper treatment for long-term conditions.
  • Get treatment when you have an infection.
  • Talk to your doctor right away if you have side effects from your medications.
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