Feeling Dizzy? Top Reasons You Feel Faint or Lightheaded

Have you been feeling faint or dizzy of late? While such feelings are common among older adults, they should not cause worry, especially if they do not last long once you sit or lie down. However, dizziness could be a sign of a severe issue in rare cases, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Difference Between Dizziness, Vertigo, and Disequilibrium

Generally, dizziness refers to feeling woozy, faint, or lightheaded. Many confuse dizziness with vertigo, which is when you feel like your surroundings are moving or spinning. Thus, these conditions describe two different feelings and have differing causes.

Another common term often wrongly used when describing dizziness is disequilibrium. This describes losing equilibrium or feeling unbalanced or unsteady, usually accompanied by dizziness and spatial disorientation. Now that you understand the definitions of these terms, let us look at some common causes of dizziness.

Common Causes of Dizziness

The following are the top causes of dizziness and some common fixes.

Head or Neck Injury

If you have recently experienced a head or neck injury, including strains, sprains, degenerative disc disease, or acute injuries, you will likely experience regular dizzy spells. This is because such issues disrupt the normal function of your nerves, joints, and muscles, causing them to deliver abnormal neural messages to your brain’s balance centers, which results in balance issues like dizziness. 

Dizziness resulting from such injuries to your neck or head is known as cervicogenic dizziness. People with whiplash, concussions, chronic neck pain, and inflammatory arthritis often experience this. While this condition is usually treated with orthopedic physiotherapy, your doctor will have to perform CT scans to determine whether it is a concussion, diagnostic tests, like X-rays, to check for spinal injuries, or an MRI scan for a more comprehensive look at your spine to determine the specific issue.

Drop in Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure causes orthostatic or postural hypotension. The drop in blood pressure, usually a reading of 120 systolic/80 diastolic mm Hg, often occurs while standing up or sitting down. Check your blood pressure as you stand and sit to note any changes. If the difference is above 20 mm diastolic or systolic, consult your doctor immediately.

Hypoglycemia is another cause that results from low blood pressure. While this condition can be temporary and of little concern, usually resulting from diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, poor dehydration, lack of proper nutrition, and extreme physical exercise, it is crucial to seek medical attention as it could result from more severe medical complications, such as kidney failure or liver infections or disease.

Ear Infections

Inner ear infections are another common cause. It is when an infection enters your internal ear organ, damaging the vestibular nerve, which sends neural waves to the brain. As a result, you may experience pain in your ear, hearing loss, or long-term dizziness. This condition is also known as labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis.

It is also worth noting that head or neck injury can cause vestibular dysfunction, as it hinders the brain’s function of processing information. As a result, patients may experience discoordination in various body parts, leading to dizziness.

Taking over-the-counter antibiotics or simply drinking plenty of liquids and resting can treat dizziness resulting from ear infections. To determine the actual cause of your dizzy spells, especially if you feel ear pain, seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor will likely perform an otoscope to evaluate crystals in your inner ear. 

How Physical Therapy Can Help

While it can be challenging to ascertain the root cause of dizziness, Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help you. Our team of specialists will perform comprehensive tests to assist patients in understanding the root cause of their dizzy spells and effective treatments. Contact us by emailing cawleyptfrank@gmail.com or calling 570-208-2787 for more information on the causes and possible treatments.