Maintaining your balance is not a simple process and requires the smooth functioning and the combination of three bodily functions — proper vision; the ability to sense the body’s position and receptors in the inner ear. Imbalance in any of these functions could lead to multiple sensations and two distinct conditions: lightheadedness and vertigo.
Lightheadedness means feeling faint, wobbly, woozy, unsteady, or off-balance. Sometimes individuals say they feel like they are floating. Vertigo, on the other hand, is more intense. Individuals may feel like they, or the room they are in, are spinning, even though nothing is moving.
Nausea and an urgent need to sit down can accompany both lightheadedness and vertigo. Vision problems, such as difficulty focusing and following an object with the eyes, can be associated with vertigo.
Potential causes for dizziness range from mild dehydration to serious heart problems. While it is not a complicated issue for most people, dizziness could sometimes be a sign of serious health problems. When symptoms persist or are severe, seek medical help.
Among the common causes of lightheadedness are: Drop in blood pressure, low blood sugar levels; side effects of medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers and drugs for high blood pressure and seizures, as well as from anxiety related disorders such as agoraphobia, overheating of the body and neurological disorders.
The most common cause of vertigo probably arises from migraines or viral infections of the inner ear. Vertigo could also result when loose particles in the ear called otoconia get lodged in the semicircular canals of the inner ear, or when there is a buildup of fluid levels in the inner ear which result in a ringing sensation and hearing loss.
When other symptoms, such as chest pain, fever, painful headache, vomiting, sweating, garbled speech and blurriness of vision accompany lightheadedness and vertigo, they may be clues to the cause of the dizziness.
Individuals experiencing sudden dizziness can restore their sense of balance by laying or sitting down, with their head between their knees; drinking water, loosening clothing and practicing deep and even breathing.