If you or a family member is experiencing dizziness, you’re likely to be feeling faint, light-headed or unsteady.

Occasional attacks of dizziness are normal. However, there are serious causes of dizziness, so it’s important to see your doctor if you keep getting dizzy spells. Treatment will depend on the cause of your dizziness.

Balance system – Problems in your balance system can cause dizziness along with ringing in your ears or vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation of either spinning or having things spin around you.

Brain – Dizziness can result from decreased oxygen to the brain. This can be caused by blood clots and bleeding, or spasms in the vessels of the brain. This type of dizziness may also be caused by multiple sclerosis.

Heart and circulation – Dizziness may be caused when your blood pressure doesn’t adjust quickly enough to changes in posture (like when you stand up suddenly). This means less blood (and therefore oxygen) is getting to your brain for a short time.

  • You might feel faint, look pale and want to sit down.
  • Your vision may darken and in rare cases you may lose consciousness.

More serious causes of dizziness include sudden or long-term blood loss, heart disease, drug reactions, infection, anaemia or metabolic disorders.

Psychological problems – A person can feel light-headed from hyperventilation, severe anxiety or depression. Up to 20% of cases of dizziness may be caused by psychological problems.

Staying safe if you feel dizzy

Take safety measures if you feel dizzy – don’t risk the chance of injury from falling.

  • Lie flat to allow blood to circulate to your brain.
  • Make a habit of rising slowly from a lying or sitting position.
  • Sit a minute or two before getting up to walk.
  • If you’re driving, pull over to the side of the road where you will be safe.
  • Don’t operate machinery while dizzy.
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