Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at December 10, 2015

Dizziness affects millions of Americans and people worldwide. People from all backgrounds of all ages can suffer from dizziness from time to time. While many people see improvements in their dizziness symptoms gradually over time. Others may require medical attention or treatment if the condition continues.


Definition & Facts

One may start feeling faint or weak periodically when they report dizziness symptoms. Dizziness is a term that describes a woozy sensation. People report sudden weakness or a faint feeling.

The room may appear to be spinning. A person may feel as though they are floating. Most people complain of recurring problems of lightheadedness or unsteadiness. Dizziness that does not resolve itself can usually be linked to a serious medical condition.


One of the most common reasons for dizziness is a disturbance in the balance centers of the inner ear. Vertigo is the single most common cause of faintness. Vertigo occurs when there is a problem with balance centers of the inner ear. Those suffering from vertigo may also experience vomiting.

Anemia is also another common reason for dizziness. When iron levels in the body drop below certain levels, the person may end up battling fatigue symptoms. Low energy levels and dizziness may point to an iron deficiency problem.

Strokes can affect one side of a person’s body. Limited mobility or loss of movement to either side of the body can cause faintness. During a stroke, blood flow to the brain may be temporarily limited. In a minor stroke, brain cells may not be killed. In major strokes, brain cells may actually be killed. If a person feels stiffness to either side of the body and report feeling wooziness, the stroke may be the cause.

Ventricular tachycardia can result in faintness and cause dizzy spells. The problem occurs when the heart rate changes. When the heart rate accelerates or when the pattern becomes inconsistent, the person may begin to experience these symptoms.

Hypoglycemia is yet another cause of weakness. The changes in blood sugar can lead to sweatiness. When a person’s blood pressure drops below normal levels, they are at risk of blacking out. In addition to feeling faint, the person may exhibit clammy skin.

Pregnancy is also another common reason for faintness. Dizziness associated with pregnancy is usually considered a harmless condition. Women may experience dizziness that comes and goes. Most women see improvements in symptoms after pregnancy.

Viral gastroenteritis is another common medical condition that causes faintness. It isn’t uncommon for people with the illness to experience vomiting as well. Those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk for becoming ill. Contamination from a food source or coming into contact with an infected person can increase chances of contracting the virus. Viral gastroenteritis can last for two or three days at a time.

Meniere’s disease is described as an ear condition that also causes instability and faintness. Hearing loss, clogging and ringing in the ears are associated with this condition. The temporary condition comes and goes, usually disappearing over 20 minutes.

When to see a doctor

If the condition is caused by vertigo, hospitalization may be required in order to stabilize the patient. If anemia happens to be the root cause of the dizzy spells, medical attention may be needed. The person may need blood samples drawn and evaluated.

The doctor may have to determine whether or not a supplement regimen is necessary for the person. If the condition is the result of a stroke, the person may actually need long term monitoring and care in order to preserve brain health and prevent future strokes from occurring. Depending on the severity of the condition, physical and speech therapy may be needed.

Hypoglycemic patients should also be treated by a physician. Any time there are issues with unstable blood sugar levels, the person is at risk of having a sudden blackout.

Meniere’s diseases patients may require ongoing treatment from an otolaryngologist in order to prevent extensive hearing problems. It is especially important for ventricular tachycardia patients to consult a physician. Those with a condition affecting the heart or brain should be monitored and treated by a physician.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment process may begin with an initial assessment. In less severe cases, a person may be prescribed medications and bed rest. Additional treatment may be recommended if problems persist. Depending on the cause of the condition, the person may be referred to a particular specialist.

Most people experiencing feelings of faintness may have to be treated by a physician or family doctor earlier on before being referred to other specialists. Pregnant women, heart and stroke patients may be prescribed additional medications to better manage symptoms.

The most common cases of dizziness caused by conditions like vertigo are treated by internists, ENTs and neurologists. In some cases, a neurologist may be recommended. If hearing loss is suspected, an audiologist may also needed. It isn’t uncommon for a team of specialists to work together to help vertigo patients resolve their dizziness. A physical therapist can even be consulted for less severe cases of vertigo.

Prevention & Prophylaxis

Dizziness is usually a condition that resolves itself over time. Proper hydration, adequate rest and regular meals can manage symptoms. Exercise can also improve balance, reducing risk of injuries. Daily habits like maintaining an exercise routine or standing up slowly after sitting long periods of time can reduce chances of falls.

Those with a chronic condition that may be contributing to dizziness may require routine preventive care. Physicians should always be involved in cases where there is a serious chronic condition.

In addition to care, the home may need to be altered to reduce fall risks and unexpected injuries for elderly patients. Additional railing may have to be added to the homes to prevent falls. Handrails in the bathrooms can prevent a person from falling while in the tub. Increasing the lighting and decreasing clutter in walkways reduces fall risks.

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