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Information from Your Family Doctor
What Is Making Me Dizzy?
Am Fam Physician. 2010 Aug 15;82(4):369.See related article on dizziness
What is dizziness?
Dizziness is one of the most common reasons why people visit their doctors. Dizziness may make you feel off-balance, wobbly, lightheaded, or like you might faint. Vertigo is a common type of dizziness that makes you feel like things are moving or spinning around you.
Although dizziness can make it harder for you to do your normal daily activities, it is usually not caused by a serious condition.
What causes it?
Your doctor may ask you to describe how your dizziness feels, what makes it worse, and what makes it better. He or she may do some movement tests. By moving your body in different ways, your doctor will try to see what brings on your dizziness. Your doctor may also check your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Dizziness can be caused by anxiety or problems in your inner ear, heart, or nervous system. Some medicines can cause dizziness. Tell your doctor what medicines you are taking so they can be adjusted or changed, if needed.
How is it treated?
It depends on the cause and your symptoms. Medicines are sometimes used to make the symptoms of dizziness better. Medicines can also treat the cause of dizziness. Your doctor may tell you to drink more water or do certain head and neck exercises. For videos of these exercises, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhinu_oU_hM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqokxZRbJfw&NR=1.
It is important to treat dizziness, because you are more likely to fall if you are dizzy. You are also more likely to have a car crash if you drive while you are dizzy.
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
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