When we were kids, there was nothing more fun than to be spun around in circles until we dropped from dizziness. If you’re experiencing frequent and ongoing problems with dizziness and lightheadedness, however, the problem may be far from fun and games.
At our practice, Dr. Alexa Lessow and our team of otolaryngology specialists understand the many serious conditions that can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. We review them here.
Common causes of dizziness and lightheadedness
As we mentioned, there are times throughout your life when you may experience temporary bouts of dizziness, which is a momentary disorientation of your senses. If, however, you routinely feel faint, lightheaded, or wobbly during the course of your normal activities, this may signal an underlying problem.
Dizziness or lightheadedness can be brought about by problems in several areas that are involved in your body’s balance, including your eyes, ears, and muscles.
The most common causes of dizziness or lightheadedness include:
Problems in your inner ear
Your inner ear contains sensors that register back-and-forth motion and gravity. If you have an infection in your inner ear, such as a viral infection that leads to vestibular neuritis, these sensors are affected, which can lead to dizziness and vertigo.
Another problem in your inner ear that can cause dizziness or lightheadedness is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This condition occurs when crystals inside your ear break off and find their way into the fluid inside your ears that regulates your sense of balance. BPPV isn’t serious, but it can pose quality-of-life issues.
Rounding out the more common inner problems that lead to dizziness and lightheadedness is Meniere’s disease, a condition in which you have too much fluid inside your ears. This problem typically affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.
While migraines fall under headaches, this condition is really neurological in nature, which means it involves your central nervous system. Disturbances in your neurological function can lead to bouts of dizziness and vertigo.
If you sustain a blow to your head, it may damage brain cells and, depending upon the extent and location of the damage, lead to problems with dizziness.
There are many other issues that can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness, including cardiovascular issues like low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and serious neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis. As well, certain medications can lead to these side effects.
Restoring your senses
The best way to find out what’s behind your dizziness and lightheadedness is to come see us for an evaluation. Please note that if your symptoms come on suddenly and they’re severe enough to lead to nausea and vomiting, as well chest pain and fainting, please seek immediate medical attention.
If your dizziness and lightheadedness aren’t severe, but ongoing, we review your symptoms and then perform a number of tests to determine the likely cause. These tests may include:
- Balance and head movement tests
- Hearing exams
- Neurological testing
We may also draw blood to detect any potential signs of infection.
Rest assured, we leave no stone unturned until we identify the cause of your problem, at which point we get you started on an appropriate treatment plan to restore your senses.
If you’re struggling with dizziness or lightheadedness, please contact our New York office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to set up an appointment.