The word "dizzy" is used to describe everything from feeling faint or lightheaded to feeling weak or unsteady. Dizziness that creates the sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving is called vertigo.

Keeping your sense of balance depends on your brain processing a variety of information from your eyes, your nervous system and your inner ears. However, if your brain can't process signals from all of these locations, if the messages are contradictory, or if your sensory systems aren't functioning properly, you may experience dizziness and loss of balance. Dizziness may be a fleeting sensation or the prolonged and intense symptom of a wide range of health problems that can affect a person's independence, ability to work, and quality of life.

Dizziness is one of the most common reasons older adults visit their doctors. Aging increases the risk of developing any of several conditions that may cause dizziness. Although it may be disabling and incapacitating, dizziness rarely signals a serious, life-threatening condition. Treatment of dizziness depends on the cause and your symptoms.

There are three main types of dizziness:

  • Faintness/lightheadedness
  • Vertigo
  • Disequilibrium
You might feel dizzy when:
  • Fainting or near fainting such as "at the sight of blood" or with emotional upset
  • Fainting or near fainting from standing up too quickly or standing still
  • Weakness during a flu, cold, or other illness
  • Seasickness or motion sickness
  • Queasiness, nausea, or vomiting
  • Confused thinking
  • Fatigue, tiredness, or daytime sleepiness
  • Clumsy hands or stumbling walking

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