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You probably have experienced the symptoms of dizziness. We can best describe as a sensation of unsteadiness or light-headedness. In some cases, it may be associated with a feeling of faintness. However, with dizziness, you do not faint or lose consciousness. You may feel dizzy after having one drink too many, or immediately after getting off an amusement park ride. Emotional upset and stress may also sometimes produce this symptom.
Vertigo is often confused with mere dizziness, but it is a more serious medical symptom. Vertigo can best be expressed as an actual sense of movement. With vertigo, you perceive that either you or your surroundings are moving or spinning. When you try to walk, you may veer to one side.
Vertigo or Dizziness
Vertigo is usually the result of a disturbance in either the inner portion of your ear or certain areas of the brain responsible for maintaining your balance. Any acute or chronic disorder that affects the nerves leading to these areas can also cause vertigo. One of the most common causes is a mild viral illness associated with head and ear stuffiness. Sometimes the symptoms of vertigo do not even appear until after the infection has cleared up. Typically, the symptoms are worse when you turn your head or change positions. More serious causes include head injury, drug overdose, and brain tumors.
A sudden loss of consciousness is called fainting. Fainting is usually a result of a sudden decrease in the blood supply to the brain. Many mechanisms can affect the blood flow to your brain, and some of these are part of your body’s natural reaction to anxiety, particularly stress. The very act of fainting and falling often increases the blood supply to the brain. Fatigue, hunger, and emotional stress are common causes of fainting.
Probable Treatment of Dizziness
The treatment of dizziness, vertigo or loss of consciousness depends on the cause of the symptoms. If you have become dizzy because of emotional upset or stress, often a brief period of rest and an attempt to eliminate the underlying cause will solve your problem. Vertigo that is a result of a mild viral illness will go away within a few days without treatment. If you become faint, lie down right away and elevate your legs and feet above the level of the body. It forces blood to the head. For recurrent dizziness, vertigo or fainting episodes, your physician will need to do a complete evaluation to prescribe appropriate therapy. He or she will need to determine the underlying cause and to be sure that there has been no head trauma or other injuries if you have lost consciousness.
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Cause for Concern About Dizziness
Although dizziness is generally nothing to worry about. It may be a clue to something more dangerous, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), anemia, and high or low blood pressure, drug overdose or heart disease. Anytime you experience dizziness that does not go away within a relatively short time, consult your doctor. An occasional episode of vertigo that is short lived should not be a cause for alarm. However, recurrent, frequent, severe attacks of vertigo require medical attention. Likewise, vertigo associated with head injury or accompanied by fainting requires immediate medical attention.
Most often, fainting is harmless except for the risk of head injury. Recovery from an uncomplicated episode of fainting should occur within minutes. Loss of consciousness may also accompany heart disease, severe anemia, diabetes, hypoglycemia, drug overdoses and epilepsy. Anytime someone loses consciousness and cannot be aroused (coma), consider this a medical emergency and call for an ambulance at once.
Call Your Physician When
You experience dizziness that does not go away within a short time.
You experience recurrent episodes of dizziness or vertigo.
You experience dizziness, vertigo or fainting associated with a head injury or convulsions.