Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Blurred lights.

Blurred lights.
beginning of content

Dizziness

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).

Last reviewed: September 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Dizziness

Dizziness Category: Brain, Spinal Cord and Nerve Health Topic: Dizziness and Vertigo Send by email View as PDF Send by post It is hard to define dizziness, since feeling dizzy is such a subjective experience

Read more on Queensland Health website

Dizzy turns - myDr.com.au

Dizziness can be used to describe a wide variety of sensations. Find out the difference between vertigo and faintness, and possible underlying causes.

Read more on myDr website

Dizziness and balance

Do you often feel dizzy? Being steady and safe is important for keeping your balance and staying independent. There are many reasons why people feel dizzy. Doctors can work out the causes, and dizziness can be easily treated in many cases.

Read more on SA Health website

Vertigo - myDr.com.au

Vertigo is a term used to describe a false sensation of movement or spinning. Attacks of vertigo can last from a couple of minutes to a few hours.

Read more on myDr website

Meniere's disease - myDr.com.au

Meniere's disease has 4 typical symptoms: vertigo; hearing loss; tinnitus; and a sensation of fullness in the ear. Find out about causes and treatments.

Read more on myDr website

Ears - Meniere's disease - Better Health Channel

Meniere's disease affects the ear, which is the centre of hearing and balance.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Benzodiazepines: what are the effects? - myDr.com.au

How benzodiazepines affect a person depends on many things, but there is no safe level of benzodiazepine use.

Read more on myDr website

Fosetic 20/12.5 Tablets - myDr.com.au

Fosetic 20/12.5 Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Tobra-Day Solution for injection - myDr.com.au

Tobra-Day Solution for injection - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Karvezide 150/12.5 Tablets - myDr.com.au

Karvezide 150/12.5 Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo