When you feel dizzy or light-headed, it’s because your brain isn’t getting enough blood. Most of the time, dizziness goes away quickly on its own or is easily treated. Here are the most common causes of light-headedness:
- Dehydration (your body does not have enough water) because of vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- Blood pressure drop, particularly from standing up quickly
- Low blood sugar, especially among people with diabetes
- Certain medications
A light-headed feeling after sitting up or standing up can be alarming. This is particularly common among older people and can cause you to lose your balance and fall. There are a few strategies to avoid that dizzy feeling and stay safe when standing:
- Do not change your position suddenly.
- When rising in the morning, for example, first change from a lying position to a seated position. Then, sit for a few extra seconds on the bed before standing up.
- When you stand, make sure you have something to lean on, such as the arm of a chair or handrail.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, especially if you have cold or flu symptoms.
Vertigo is the feeling that either you or the world around you is spinning or moving. Vertigo may start when you turn your head, called benign positional vertigo.
Both vertigo and dizziness may be caused by a viral inner ear infection (labyrinthitis). Antihistamines and medicines that help with nausea and dizziness may help with symptoms. Labyrinthitis usually goes away within a few weeks.
Some cases of light-headedness and vertigo are more serious. Call your doctor if you feel dizzy for the first time, have new or worse symptoms than before, have trouble hearing, or feel dizzy after taking medication.
Call your local emergency number if you have a head injury, chest pain, high fever (over 101°F), seizures, changes in vision or speech, or if you faint and lose alertness for more than a few minutes.