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3-minute read

What is dizziness?

Feeling dizzy is something that most of us may experience from time to time. When a person is feeling dizzy, or experiencing a ‘dizzy spell’, they will usually feel light-headed, unsteady or unbalanced and they may also feel weak.

Dizziness can be caused by:

  • labyrinthitis - an inner ear condition that can affect your balance and can give you vertigo (the feeling that your surroundings are spinning)
  • other problems or conditions affecting the ears, such as Meniere's disease
  • migraine
  • stress or anxiety
  • low blood sugar
  • dehydration or heat exhaustion
  • a fall in blood pressure when you stand up
  • problems with the blood flow to your brain
  • motion or travel sickness
  • some medicines (check the patient information leaflet)
  • alcohol
  • problems or conditions affecting the ears, such as Meniere’s disease
  • vertigo
  • viruses and other illnesses
  • brain and nerve related disorders.

Feeling faint

If you are feeling dizzy or light-headed you might feel like you’re going to faint. Feeling faint is common and happens when the blood flow to the brain is reduced. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as:

  • changes to your blood pressure
  • dehydration
  • anaemia
  • some medicines
  • experiencing high levels of pain
  • exposure to sights you find unpleasant, such as the sight of blood
  • high levels of anxiety
  • standing up for long periods of time
  • coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • straining on the toilet
  • heat exposure.

See your GP if you are worried by your dizziness, and especially if you have other symptoms like fainting and headaches.

Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

Self care

If you are feeling dizzy or light-headed you may find the following advice helpful:

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Change positions slowly, especially when you’re 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.
  • Try to avoid going up or down stairs as you may fall and hurt yourself if you become dizzy whilst on the stairs. If you have to use stairs, hold on to the railing if there is one.
  • Avoid driving or operating dangerous equipment or machinery while you feel dizzy as this could be dangerous to yourself and others.
  • If you feel faint, try lying down flat. This will allow blood to reach your brain quickly.

If you are still concerned about your dizziness please consult your doctor.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your dizziness, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

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

Last reviewed: September 2017

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