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The Definitive Answer to Your Dizziness Questions

Dizziness is a common problem for the Boomer generation, but many are afraid to ask questions about it. They may not know what is causing their dizziness, or they may be worried that it is a sign of something more serious. In this article, I will answer the common questions about dizziness that my patients have asked.

We will discuss the different causes of dizziness so you will be prepared if it happens to you again.

What Is Dizziness?

Dizziness is a general term that describes a range of sensations, including feeling lightheaded, faint, or unsteady.

Dizziness can be caused by several different conditions, and it is often accompanied by imbalance. While dizziness can be alarming, it is usually not a cause for concern. In many cases, dizziness is simply the result of standing up too quickly or being in a crowded space.

However, dizziness can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as inner ear infections or stroke.

How Common Is Dizziness?

Dizziness is a frequent symptom. 15-20% of adults report dizziness (including vertigo) to their healthcare provider at least once. The older you are, the more likely you are to experience dizziness symptoms.

What Causes Dizziness and Imbalance?

Because balance involves different systems of the body, a variety of ailments can cause dizziness. The brain receives information about movement and your physical position from your:

  • Inner ear
  • Eyes
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Skin

Inner ear disorders are frequently the cause of feeling dizzy. The most common causes include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s syndrome, and ear infections.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition in which you become dizzy when you change your head or body position (such as bending over).

Dizziness from BPPV usually lasts only a couple of seconds or minutes. When calcium crystals in your inner ear move out of place, this non-harmful ailment occurs.

Meniere’s Syndrome

A buildup of fluid in the inner ear is known as Meniere’s disease.

Experts are unsure of why fluid accumulates in the inner ear. Meniere’s can develop in anyone, but it is most common in people who are between the ages of 40 and 60.

Other than feeling dizzy and unbalanced, people with Meniere’s syndrome may also experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Hearing loss
  • Muffled or distorted hearing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)

Meniere’s attacks usually happen suddenly. They can last from 20 minutes to 24 hours.

Ear Infections

Ear infections can be caused by either viruses or bacteria. The infection can cause inflammation and disruption of the messages your inner ear sends to your brain.

Other Causes of Dizzy Spells and Lightheadedness

Dizziness can also be caused by a variety of other things including:

  • Irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation)
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Alcohol use
  • Anxiety and stress (if you hyperventilate or breathe too quickly)
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Medications
  • Vision problems
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

Is It Normal or Dangerous to Experience Dizziness?

Dizziness can be an unpleasant experience. It often causes other symptoms, such as nausea, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating. Although it is not usually a sign of a dangerous illness, it is still important to seek medical help if you are feeling dizzy.

People who are dizzy often avoid physical activity and quick movements. Unfortunately, this can lead to other health problems, worsening symptoms, and an increased risk of falling. Sometimes people avoid important activities, like working, traveling or going out alone.

So even though dizziness is not usually a sign of a serious illness, it is still important to recover from it quickly.

What Can I Do to Recover Faster?

The bad news is that no medicine can cure imbalance or make the balance system work as it should.

Your doctor may be able to give you medications to ease the dizziness and nausea. However, these medications will not cure the problem.

The good news is that there are specific exercises you can do to help your dizziness and heal imbalances faster.

How Do Balance Retraining Exercises Help Me Recover Faster?

Recovering from dizziness is a lot like regaining your sea legs.

Being at sea makes people dizzy and ill at first, but if they remain there long enough, the brain learns to interpret new balance signals from the eyes, body, and balance organs.

Balance retraining exercises give your balance system the practice it needs in a controlled and safe environment. This happens when the balance mechanism in your brain starts to adapt and work differently.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

If you have dizziness that continues or keeps coming back, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider about it.

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek emergency care:

  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your face, arms, or legs
  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Slurred speech

If you want to take back your confidence and get rid of your fear of falling, check out my book, THE BOOK OF BALANCE: Rehab Secrets to Improve Your Balance and Decrease Your Risk of Falling.

Have you experienced dizziness in the last month? Which type was it? Do you worry about dizziness? Have you had it checked? Did you know you can actually regain your balance with exercises?

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The Author

Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT received his degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of South Florida in the USA. He has been a physiotherapist for over 24 years with a special interest in the geriatric or older adult population. Visit him at

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