630077 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Dizziness, Nonvertigo

    (Nonvertigo Dizziness)


    Dizziness may cause you to feel light-headed or weak. You may feel like you are going to faint. Dizziness can happen for a short period of time or be a long-lasting condition that gets in the way of your daily activities.
    "Dizziness" is sometimes used to describe the feeling like the room is spinning. This is called vertigo .


    Many conditions can cause dizziness such as:
    There are also prescription medicines that can cause dizziness, such as:
    • Medicines used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions (eg, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, nitrates)
    • Medicines used to treat mental health conditions (eg, antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
    Blood Flow to the Brain
    Nucleus factsheet image
    In some cases, dizziness may be due to decreased blood flow to the brain.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors that increase your chances of getting dizziness include:
    • Having certain conditions, such as blood pressure problems, diabetes, heart conditions, hardening of the arteries , head injury, arthritis, alcohol disorder, mental health condition (eg, anxiety disorder, depression )
    • Having a history of heart attack , stroke , or transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke)
    • Smoking
    • Having an infection and a fever
    • Taking certain medicines
    • Taking illegal drugs
    • Being exposed to toxic substances
    • Increased age


    Symptoms depend on the type of dizziness you have, for example:
    • Light-headedness—feeling like you are going to faint, you may also feel weak, have a pale color to your skin, and feel nauseous
    • Imbalance—feeling unsteady on your feet, like you are going to fall
    If you have a sensation like the room is spinning, this is called vertigo .

    When Should I Call My Doctor?

    Call your doctor if you:
    • Are having episodes of dizziness, especially if they are happening more often or are worse in intensity
    • Have signs of an infection (eg, fever, chills)
    • Think that you may have a mental health condition (eg, anxiety, substance abuse )
    • Are concerned that your medicine may be causing dizziness

    When Should I Call for Medical Help Immediately?

    Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if you have:
    • A head injury
    • Symptoms of a stroke:
      • Weakness or numbness of face, arm, or leg
      • Confusion
      • Loss of balance, coordination problems
      • Vision problems
      • Severe headache
    • Rapid, irregular heartbeat; chest pain


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will have tests done, such as:
    Based on the results of your tests, you may be referred to a specialist.


    Treatment depends on the cause of the dizziness. Examples include:
    Cause Treatment
    Orthostatic hypotension Medicine, lifestyle and dietary changes
    Motion sickness (dizziness and nausea) Medicines, such as
    • Meclizine (eg, Antivert) (for motion sickness)
    • Diazepam (eg, Valium)
    • Dimenhydrinate (eg, Dramamine)
    Anxiety disorder or other mental health condition Therapy and medicine
    Infection Antibiotics
    Dizziness due to medicine that you are taking Changes to your medicines
    Imbalance Physical therapy to build strength and balance
    If your dizziness is caused by a condition, your doctor will give you guidelines to prevent sudden movements that can cause you to feel dizzy.

    Home Care and Lifestyle Changes

    To avoid injuries, make these lifestyle changes:
    • If you are feeling dizzy, sit down right away. Also, avoid activities that could cause harm, like driving, using machinery, or climbing a ladder.
    • Remove items in your home that could cause you to lose your balance such as throw rugs and loose electrical cords.
    • Place slip-resistant mats in your shower and on your bathroom floor.
    • Place night lights in hallways and in the bathroom.
    • Use a cane if you feel that you need extra support.


    You may be able to prevent dizziness if you treat the cause. For example, taking medicine before a trip can prevent dizziness and nausea caused by motion sickness.
    There are other ways that you can prevent dizziness, including:
    • Get proper treatment for long-term conditions.
    • Talk to your doctor right away if you have side effects from your medicines.
    • Get treatment for an infection.
    • Avoid smoking, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and using illegal drugs.
    There are also steps that you can take to prevent an episode of dizziness, such as:
    • Avoid sudden movements.
    • Avoid bending down or extending your neck.


    American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org/

    Vestibular Disorders Association http://www.vestibular.org/


    Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society http://www.balanceanddizziness.org/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/


    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated February 28, 2012. Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Combating dizziness in older adults. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated August 22, 2011. Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Dizziness and motion sickness. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/dizzinessMotionSickness.cfm . Updated December 2010. Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Dizziness: differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated December 16, 2011. Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Vertigo. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated September 2012. Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Warning signs of a stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=symp . Accessed November 26, 2012.

    Revision Information

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