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6-minute read

Key facts

  • Dizziness can describe a range of feelings, such as being unsteady, woozy, weak or faint.
  • You can manage dizziness by resting well and drinking enough water.
  • Dizziness can be caused by many different things, including heart problems.
  • If you have other symptoms while feeling dizzy, such as numbness and pain, get medical help.

What is dizziness?

Dizziness is a term that can be used to describe a range of feelings, such as feeling:

  • unsteady
  • woozy
  • weak
  • faint

Most people have felt dizzy from time to time. It is rarely a sign of a serious problem. There are ways to relieve dizziness.

What are the symptoms of dizziness?

If you are feeling dizzy, or experiencing a ‘dizzy spell’, you may feel:

Dizziness that feels like the world is spinning or moving is called vertigo.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes dizziness?

Dizziness is common in adults, and is rarely a sign of a serious condition. Dizziness has many possible causes, including:

Dizziness can also be caused by conditions such as:

  • brain and nerve-related disorders
  • conditions that affect your ears, such as Meniere’s disease and labyrinthitis
  • problems with your eyes
  • problems with your heart

Some medicines and alcohol can also make you feel dizzy.

Feeling dizzy and faint can also happen when blood flow to your brain is reduced. This can happen when you:

  • are dehydrated
  • have high levels of pain
  • stand up and have a fall in blood pressure
  • look at things you find unpleasant, such as the sight of blood
  • stand up for long periods of time
  • strain on the toilet

When should I see my doctor?

You should seek immediate medical attention if you feel dizzy and also have:

  • pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in the chest, shoulders, neck, arms, jaw, or back
  • nausea or cold sweats
  • shortness of breath
  • numbness or weakness in your face, arm or leg
  • trouble talking, understanding or swallowing
  • vision changes in one or both eyes
  • confusion or become unconscious

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if you have any of the above symptoms.

See your doctor if:

  • you have an unexplained fall
  • you are worried by your dizziness
  • your dizziness is sudden, severe, or keeps happening

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is dizziness diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you. They will ask you about your symptoms and any medicines you are taking. If needed, they can refer you for tests.

They can also refer you to a specialist if needed, such as a:

How is dizziness treated?

Dizziness often gets better without treatment. If you need treatment, it will depend on what is causing your dizziness.

Even if a cause can’t be found, there are ways to treat dizziness, such as:

  • medicines
  • balance exercises

Managing dizziness

If you are feeling dizzy or light-headed, there are some ways to help manage your symptoms.

When you feel dizzy, stop what you are doing and sit down until it passes. You can also lie down flat.

Can dizziness be prevented?

Preventing dizziness often depends on the cause of your dizziness. However, there are some things you can try:

  • Make sure to drink enough water.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Change positions slowly, especially when you are standing up after lying down. Try to sit for a couple of minutes before standing up.
  • Avoid sudden, fast movements of the head, such as looking up or around too quickly.

Complications of dizziness

If you feel dizzy or faint, you are at risk of falling and injuring yourself. You can:

  • hold onto the railing when going up and down stairs
  • consider using a walking aid
  • avoid driving or operating dangerous equipment or machinery while you feel dizzy to protect yourself and others

Resources and support

You can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2023

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