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There are differences between being dizzy and lightheaded. Whatever you call it, it’s not unusual, but it is worth noting. And it’s important to find what’s behind it and how to know when you need to get help.
People may feel dizzy in many situations. You might feel dizzy along with feeling anxious or stressed. Or if you’re having a migraine. Dizziness sometimes goes with motion sickness.
Other situations are common, and have simple fixes, says Harvard Medical School.
DehydrationIt might happen if you’re sick, too hot, or not eating or drinking enough. Without enough fluids, your blood pressure may drop. Then your brain doesn’t get enough blood, causing lightheadedness. If you’re dizzy but not sick, drinking more water and having something to eat may help.
Drug Side EffectsSome medicines can make you feel dizzy, especially those that lower your blood pressure. Diuretics, which make you urinate more, are one well-known cause of dizziness. Taking too much of a drug can cause dizziness. Or you may need a different drug or different dose. Talk to your doctor.
Medical TreatmentsSome medical treatments, like chemotherapy, also cause dizziness. If that’s the case, tell your doctor that you’ve been experiencing dizziness.
Low Blood SugarWhen your brain responds to low blood sugar, you may feel lightheaded or even confused. Sipping juice or eating something may help. But if this happens often, talk to your doctor.
Ear ProblemsTwo common ear issues are infections and vertigo. Both issues are related to the canals in your ear that help you keep your balance. Meniere’s disease can also cause dizziness. Meniere’s may also cause symptoms of pressure or ringing in your ears or hearing loss.
More Serious ProblemsFeeling lightheaded is one sign of a heart attack and stroke. So if you’re older, have high blood pressure, or have had a previous heart attack or stroke, get help right away if you feel light headed or dizzy. Learn the other signs of heart attack and stroke.
Less often, dizziness can signal a brain tumor, Parkinson’s disease or other critical health issue. So it isn’t a health symptom to be ignored, especially if it happens for more than a few days.
Dizzy spells may just be annoying. Or they might mean more. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor.
Originally published 1/13/2020; Revised 2022
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