Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2023;107(5):online

Related article: Dizziness: Evaluation and Management

What is dizziness?

Dizziness is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors. It may make you feel off-balance, wobbly, lightheaded, or like you might faint. Vertigo is dizziness that makes you feel like the room or objects are spinning around you. Dizziness can make it harder for you to do everyday activities. Talk to your doctor if this is a new symptom or if you don't have times between dizzy spells when you feel normal.

What causes it?

Anxiety or problems in your inner ear most often cause dizziness. Heart or nervous system problems are possible, but these are rare. If your dizziness doesn't let up between spells, it may be due to a stroke or might mean a stroke is about to happen, but this is rare. Some medicines can cause dizziness. Tell your doctor what medicines you are taking so they can be adjusted or changed.

What can I expect from my doctor?

Your doctor will ask you to describe how your dizziness feels, when it happens, if it happens only when you're in certain positions, what makes it worse, and what makes it better. They may do some movement tests. Your doctor may place your body in different positions to see what makes you dizzy. They will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

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