It is quite common for people to feel dizzy every once in a while. So common, in fact, that we often ignore it – just stopping for a moment to let the dizziness pass and continue whatever it is we were doing. Usually just waiting for it to pass is all it takes, but sometimes dizziness can last for a long time, and you may need to seek medical attention. How do you know when it’s reached that point?

Before we get to that, let’s first talk about what dizziness is, and what causes it. Dizziness can be described in many ways, and it really varies from person to person. The most common symptoms of dizziness are feeling lightheaded, unsteady, giddiness or nausea. Regardless of the symptom, dizziness relates to the sense of balance and equilibrium.

Your sense of balance is maintained by a complex interaction between different parts of the nervous system:

  • The inner ears, which monitor directions of motion
  • The eyes, which monitor where the body is in space
  • The skin pressure receptors in the joints and the spine – which tell which part of the body is down and touching the ground
  • The muscle and joint sensory receptors – which tell what parts of the body are moving
  • The central nervous system – which processes all the information from the four other systems and makes sense of everything

Whenever the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the other four systems, dizziness occurs.

There are several causes of dizziness:

  • Circulation
  • Vertigo
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Allergy
  • Neurological disease

Now that we have discussed what dizziness is and what causes it, how do you know when you should just wait for it to pass or go see a doctor?

You should consult a doctor if you have never experienced dizziness before, if you are experiencing different symptoms than you have in the past, if you think that medication you are taking is the cause, or if you are experiencing hearing loss. The experienced doctors at Alexandria Otolaryngology Associates can help you decide what treatment options are available to you.

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