Feeling Dizzy: Should You Worry?

Blood Pressure, Daily Health Solutions, Featured Article, Healthy Heart, Healthy Living
on December 13, 2011

Have you had a bout of dizziness recently? For most healthy adults, a little lightheadedness once in a while is usually nothing to worry about.Still, it can be scary. How do you know when a dizzy spell is the sign of something serious? Here are the most common causes of dizziness and what to do about them.

Sinus infections.Most of us associate nasal congestion, fever and headaches with a sinus infection, but pressure in the sinuses can also cause dizziness. “Those complaints are often non-specific, so people don’t think of the sinuses as the culprit,” noted Dr. Ayesha Khalid, an instructor in otolaryngology with Harvard Medical School. Bacterial sinus infections can usually be cleared up with antibiotics.  

Ear infections. Although less common in adults, ear infections can cause pain and the occasional bit of dizziness. Typically, a family doctor can treat this easily. 

Migraines. Along with nausea and light sensitivity, dizziness sometimes shows up in women who have migraine headaches. “Treating the migraine will help the dizziness symptom,” said Dr. Dale Tylor, a pediatric otolaryngologist in Nashville, Tenn.

RELATED: Migraine Basics

A sudden drop in blood pressure. Positional changes that result in dizziness are most common with older adults, but they can happen to almost anyone. Try to stand up slowly and avoid sudden position changes to minimize this occurrence. If it continues to be a problem, see your physician to get your blood pressure checked.

Medication problems. An incorrect dosage of blood pressure medication that drops your blood pressure too much could also be a culprit. Check with your provider, who may want to make sure you’re taking the right amount.

Dehydration. Have you recently had a prolonged bout of diarrhea or vomiting? Your dizziness may be the result of dehydration, so you need to increase your fluid intake. According to gastroenterologist Dr. Carla Ginsburg, a member of the American Gastroenterological Association, you may need to visit your doctor and receive IV fluids if these symptoms occur for more than 48 hours.

Any time you experience dizziness in tandem with other, more serious symptoms, or on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. Too, if you have vertigo—a sensation as if the room is spinning around you, you may need medical attention. Vertigo is usually caused by some problem with the inner ear, which affects your balance, or the vestibular nerve. Your health care provider can administer tests to determine the specific cause and treatment.