What Causes Dizzy Spells & When It Might Be Serious

Though not as common, exercise so intense that you’re gasping for air can cause hyperventilation, rapid breathing that causes carbon dioxide levels in the blood to drop, resulting in lightheadedness.

6. A medication you’re taking is causing it.

There are a lot of meds that could be the culprit here, but to name a few, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and sedatives are all known to have dizziness as a side effect. Blood pressure-lowering medications could also make you dizzy if they lower your blood pressure too much. When in doubt, check the side effects on whatever medications you’re taking.

7. You have poor blood circulation.

We know that our blood’s activity can make us feel dizzy in small ways. For example, standing or sitting too quickly can cause a brief drop in your systolic blood pressure which leads to some brief lightheadedness. It’s also why you might get dizzy when you have blood drawn—the decrease in blood volume can cause inadequate blood flow to your brain.

Less commonly, you may feel dizzy if your heart isn’t pumping enough blood to your brain due to low blood pressure or poor circulation, according to the Mayo Clinic. Conditions such as cardiomyopathy, heart attack, and heart arrhythmia can all cause this dizzy or lightheaded sensation for this reason.

8. You have an anxiety disorder.

Though it’s not technically the spins associated with dizziness, certain anxiety disorders such as panic disorder can cause lightheadedness and a woozy feeling that can feel an awful like being dizzy. If you’re not sure if you have an anxiety disorder, it could be worth brushing up on these signs and talking to a doctor to see if it’s to blame for your dizziness.

9. You’re anemic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, anemia is a condition where you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body, so you feel tired and weak as a result. Dizziness is another common symptom. There are many causes of anemia, with the most common being low iron levels.

10. You have low blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a condition that is most typical in people with diabetes who use insulin and it can cause a lightheaded sensation, similar to standing up too fast. You might also experience sweating and anxiety along with dizziness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

11. You hit your head recently.

Dr. Cho says that you can also experience dizzy spells after getting a concussion. If you hit your head and never got it checked out, but sometimes feel like your head gets a little spinny, there’s a chance that bump did more than you thought.

When to see a doctor:

Here are some signs your dizziness might be part of a larger problem:

You’re experiencing it constantly or episodes last hours at a time.

A lot of the time, dizzy spells pass pretty quickly or fade when you address the problem (such as drinking water when you’re dehydrated). However, if a dizzy spell doesn’t pass, that could be a sign something else might be going on. Constant or long-lasting dizziness is often a sign of a more serious ear disorder or undiagnosed migraines.

You’re so dizzy you can’t function.

Even if it only happens once and doesn’t last a long time, it’s worth seeing a doctor if your dizziness is super intense. Not only could it be a sign that something else is going on, but it also puts you in danger of injuring yourself. It’s better to be safe than sorry, says Dr. Cho.

You’re also experiencing symptoms like numbness, weakness, speech problems, clumsiness, or vision problems.

Vertigo can actually be a sign of a stroke. If you feel a spinning-dizzy sensation that hits suddenly and also experience any other symptoms of stroke at the same time (for instance, weakness especially on one side of the body, sudden severe headache, or trouble speaking, seeing, or walking), you should see a doctor to rule it out. Dr. Cho urges a visit to the emergency room where doctors can do a quick check to make sure.

Some other neurological conditions (like multiple sclerosis) can cause similar symptoms, so it’s worth checking with a doctor if you’re concerned about those dizzy spells.


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