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What are the Most Common Causes of Sudden Dizziness?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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There may be several factors that cause sudden dizziness, including infection or illness, use of certain medications, and lack of adequate fluids. Heat exhaustion, which is caused by exposure to extreme temperatures while under direct sun, may also cause dizziness. A condition known as vertigo may cause an individual to feel as though his surroundings are rotating or revolving and this may last for a few seconds or several minutes.

An inner ear imbalance or infection of the middle ear may occasionally cause dizziness. A condition referred to as swimmer's ear may also produce the same symptoms. This is generally a painful condition marked by pressure inside of the ear canal. This often occurs when bacteria enter the ears of people who frequently swim. Those who suffer from this type of infection may be prone to dizziness, especially while standing. Antibiotics generally can clear up this infection when taken early on.

Some cases of dizziness are accompanied by a feeling of faintness. This may be due to lack of oxygen to the individual's brain. There may be several causes for this, but a major contributor is dehydration. A person who is ill may become dehydrated when excessive vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea occur. Once fluids have been replenished, the body will typically recuperate and dizzy spells should disappear.

Sudden dizziness may be a warning sign of an impending cardiac arrest. This is not always the case, but in conjunction with other symptoms, there could be a connection. If other symptoms are present, such as shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, immediate medical care should be sought.

Some individuals who are sensitive to certain medications may suffer from dizziness after these drugs enter the bloodstream. Allergic reactions to many prescription drugs may also cause dizziness along with other symptoms that may be more serious. Excessive alcohol consumption may also be a cause of lightheadedness and dizziness. This may also occur if the use of alcohol is combined with certain medications.

There are some individuals who are prone to dizziness when under extreme physical or emotional stress. Fear and anxiety, as well as panic attack disorders may also cause sudden dizziness. These symptoms of sudden dizziness are generally resolved by learning effective ways to manage stress and anxiety.

Hunger or fasting for an extended amount of time may also produce symptoms of dizziness. This is due to a drop in blood sugar levels, which can make a person feel unsteady, weak, and dizzy. Eating nutritional snacks between regularly scheduled balanced meals is a good way to counteract the effects of dizziness.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon936784 — On Mar 03, 2014

For the past three months I have been getting a headache if I am exposed to the sun for a few minutes.

By anon168361 — On Apr 16, 2011

I've been getting sudden bursts of dizziness for the past five hours, whenever i sit down or stand up.

This is the first time this has ever happened. I feel real weird as if I'm rolling and my head feels like I'm spinning around and around. What could this be and what causes this?

By anon163645 — On Mar 28, 2011

I am a rather tense person and also am having trouble with depression. The above article is very helpful as it made me realize what is causing my occasional dizziness. Thanks for helping me understand how all this goes together. I am under medical supervision. --fussy

By aaaCookie — On Jan 31, 2011

I suffer from very bad menstrual cramps and other pain due to endometriosis, and this can at times cause headaches and dizziness as well as pelvic pain and occasional nausea. I can usually prevent or lessen these problems if I make sure I am hydrated, take a pain killer if needed, and rest, but it makes actually doing everyday things difficult at times. I have tried to get surgery, but being a woman in my early 20s, no one wants to remove the "parts" necessary to stop the problem.

By mutsy — On Jan 30, 2011

My mother in law suffers from severe vertigo symptoms. She gets severe migraines and loses her balance.

She can’t even ride on a cruise ship because she starts to suffer from dizziness and nausea. She tried to go on a cruise recently, but had to leave because of her vertigo symptoms.

I know that cruise ships have stabilizers in order to reduce the movement of the ship, but she went during the winter which is an especially rocky time in the Caribbean.

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