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Dizziness is a common symptom that’s not usually a sign of anything serious, but should be investigated by a doctor.
The term "dizziness" means different things to different people – some use it to describe feeling lightheaded or off balance, while others use it to describe a feeling that their surroundings are spinning.
Because the symptom is quite vague and can be caused by a wide range of things, it may not always be easy to identify the underlying cause of dizziness.
This page explains what you should do if you feel dizzy for no apparent reason, and outlines the most common causes.
See your doctor if you're feeling lightheaded or off balance and you're worried, particularly if you also have other symptoms, such as fainting episodes or headaches.
Your doctor will first want to establish exactly what you mean by dizziness, and check that you're not actually describing vertigo – a severe type of dizziness, where you feel your surroundings are spinning or moving.
They’ll also want to know:
Dizziness can sometimes be caused by an ear condition. A simple way of distinguishing between ear-related dizziness and dizziness due to other causes is to determine whether it occurs only when you're upright or also when you're lying down.
Dizziness that occurs when you're upright is probably not related to the ear. Dizziness that happens when you're lying down is usually caused by a viral ear infection, which can't be treated with antibiotics.
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of your dizziness, recording when and where you experience the problem, and take it with you to your doctor appointment. It's helpful to note:
If you're taking prescription medicine, your doctor will probably review this to check whether dizziness is a possible side effect. If necessary, they can prescribe a different medication for you to try.
You may be referred to a specialist for further tests and investigations.
The most common causes of dizziness are outlined below.
Click on the above links for more information on these conditions.
Less common causes of dizziness include:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.