Dizziness - a common problem
8/24/2020 by Karen Truitt, DO
Dizziness is not a disease, but usually a symptom of a different underlying problem. In most cases, you should see your health care provider if you develop dizziness, a sense of motion or spinning (i.e., vertigo), lightheadedness or wooziness, or unsteadiness.
Problems in various parts of your body could lead to dizziness or feeling out of balance. It is helpful to understand the timing and triggers for the dizziness and know about other accompanying symptoms. Common cases include low blood pressure, dehydration, and medication side effects. An inner ear problem or migraine also can cause dizziness, as can psychiatric conditions like anxiety. Rarely, dizziness can indicate a heart or brain problem such as stroke or tumor.
Sometimes a referral to a specialist is needed to address the cause of the issue. Common inner ear problems, such as BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) or vestibular neuritis may be treated with medication and vestibular therapy to improve the symptoms. Referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist is sometimes needed. If your dizziness is found to be a manifestation of migraine or other nervous system disorder, referral to a neurologist may be helpful.
Dizziness/vertigo usually does not signal a serious condition, but if you have any of the following conditions, you should contact your primary care provider:
- A new, different or severe headache
- Blurred or double vision
- Hearing loss
- Speech problems
- Weakness in your arm(s) or leg(s)
- Loss of consciousness
- Problems walking
- Numbness or tingling anywhere on the body
- Chest pain or a fast or slow heart rate
Karen Truitt, DO, is a community neurologist in the Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She completed her adult neurology residency and her clinical neurophysiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic. She also performs neurology procedures at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and Mankato.