Dizziness is a term that is often used to describe two different symptoms: lightheadedness and vertigo.
Light-headedness is a feeling like you might faint.
Vertigo is a feeling that you are spinning or moving, or that the the world is spinning around you. See also:
Light-headedness - dizzy; Loss of balance; Vertigo
Most causes of dizziness are not serious and either quickly get better on their own or are easily treated.
Light-headedness occurs when your brain does not get enough blood. This may occur if:
- You have a sudden drop in blood pressure
- Your body does not have enough water (is dehydrated) because of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and other conditions
- You get up too quickly after sitting or lying down (this is more common in older people)
Light-headedness may also occur if you have the
More serious conditions that can lead to light-headedness include:
- Heart problems, such as a heart attack or abnormal heart beat
- Bleeding inside the body
- Shock (extreme drop in blood pressure)
If any of these serious disorders is present, you will usually also have symptoms like chest pain, a feeling of a racing heart, loss of speech, change in vision, or other symptoms.
Vertigo may be due to:
Benign positional vertigo, a spinning feeling that occurs when you move your head
Labyrinthitis, a viral infection of the inner ear that usually follows a cold or flu
Meniere's disease, a common inner ear problem
Other causes of lightheadedness or vertigo may include:
- Use of certain medications
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumor
- Bleeding in the brain
Review Date: 05/02/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.