What is dizziness?

Dizziness refers to feeling light-headed, off-balance, faint, like you are spinning, or like things are spinning around you (also called vertigo). Dizziness is very common and it’s not something which is usually a cause for concern. It can happen, for example, when we stand up too quickly after bending down, or when we’re feeling particularly hot. However, dizziness can also be a symptom experienced with certain conditions or an indication of an underlying problem.

What causes dizziness?

While dizziness is common, there are certain conditions which can cause you to feel dizzy for no obvious reason, of which there are many. Some of the more commonly experienced conditions include:

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Inner ear conditions/infections, e.g Ménière’s disease
  • Heart problems
  • Stomach flu
  • Colds and flu
  • Anorexia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Panic attacks

You may also feel dizzy during pregnancy. It’s important to visit your doctor if your dizziness keeps coming back, or if you experience symptoms such as vision loss, double vision, limb numbness/weakness, tinnitus (ringing or sounds coming from inside the ears), hearing loss, or nausea along with the dizziness.

How is dizziness treated?

Dizziness is a symptom rather than a condition, so if it is caused by an underlying condition then the condition itself must be treated. However, if you feel dizzy and it is not a common occurrence, there are things you can do to help the dizziness go away:

  • Lie down until the dizziness passes
  • Make slow, careful movements
  • Drink enough fluids and keep hydrated
  • Get up slowly if you do need to lie down

If dizziness is a regular occurrence then you should make an appointment with your GP, who can refer you to a specialist if necessary.