Dizziness and lightheadedness are common medical symptoms that may be caused by a variety of factors. Often, these symptoms are brief and harmless, but dizzy spells that persist, worsen, or result in loss of consciousness may be symptoms of a more serious underlying condition. The most common causes of dizziness and lightheadedness include blood pressure shifts, side effects of medication, pregnancy, and certain diseases.
Frequently, temporary blood pressure shifts can lower blood supply to the brain, resulting in dizziness and lightheadedness. These may be caused by improper nutrition, common illnesses, dehydration, and blood loss. Some people may have chronic low blood pressure due to an existing illness or other factor, and may experience frequent dizzy spells as a result. Proper nutrition and hydration can help prevent dizzy or lightheaded episodes that come from acute low blood pressure.
Many prescription medications are known to cause these symptoms as well, particularly those that alter blood pressure or heart function. Beta blockers, erectile dysfunction medications, and nitroglycerides are among the most common forms of medication that may cause dizziness. Diuretics may also cause dizzy spells, as they increase dehydration. Usually, dizziness or lightheadedness associated with medication is not considered to be a serious or dangerous side effect, but many medical experts recommend consulting with a doctor about any side effect concerns.
Diabetes and endocrine-related illnesses are common causes of dizziness and lightheadedness. Hypothyroidism, which is caused by a low-producing thyroid gland, is very commonly linked with spells of dizziness or a feeling of floating and loss of balance. The appearance of frequent dizzy spells may be a possible indication of many diseases. If dizzy spells worsen or crop up regularly, a doctor should perform diagnostic tests to determine if a serious condition is behind the symptoms.
Neurological conditions and diminished sensory capacities may lead to instances of dizziness. Spinal cord abnormalities and hydrocephalus are both commonly associated with loss of balance and feelings of dizziness. Diminished sight and depth perception may also cause a general unsteadiness that may result in feeling lightheaded.
Several other common causes of dizziness and lightheadedness are related to temporary conditions. Dizzy spells, along with nausea, may be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Alcohol consumption is known to create loss of balance and dizziness, which may last until the alcohol is properly absorbed by the body. Additionally, inner ear infections are capable of throwing off balance perception, giving a sensation of unsteadiness or dizziness.