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Not Normally an Emergency, But Go to the ER If You Have Certain Symptoms

It’s normal to experience a bout of dizziness from time to time. Sometimes, you’re merely dehydrated or have low blood sugar, both of which can be easily corrected. Other times, though, it’s a sign of another condition. Depending on the severity of your dizzy spells, you might need to contact your primary care physician or visit the emergency room.

Is It an Emergency?

If you are only experiencing dizziness, contact your primary care provider for an appointment. However, if you’re experiencing other symptoms, you might need to go to the ER. Visit the emergency room if you are also experiencing:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Faintness
  • Confusion and slurred speech
  • Numbness or weakness in the face
  • Vision and hearing changes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache that started suddenly

Why Do I Feel Dizzy?

Knowing what causes dizziness can help you determine the source of your problem. Your doctor can run a full diagnostic workup to determine the cause. In most cases, people feel lightheaded and dizzy due to:

  • Dehydration
  • Side effects to medications
  • Low blood pressure or blood sugar
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Vertigo
  • Meniere’s syndrome
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Ear problems, including infections
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Vision issues
  • Toxic poisoning
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Narrowed arteries

While these are the main reasons, there are other possibilities as well. Because there are so many possible causes, getting a proper diagnosis is critical.

Diagnosing Dizziness Vs. Vertigo

Dizziness is the word used to describe an off-balance feeling that affects walking and standing. Vertigo is a bit different. If you have vertigo, it will feel like your body or surroundings are spinning, whirling, and tipping.

In general, vertigo is not a medical emergency, although you do need treatment. However, if you experience the emergency symptoms associated with dizziness, go to the ER immediately.

Diagnosing and Treating Your Condition

Your provider will evaluate your symptoms to determine how to move forward. Because dizziness could be caused by a heart attack, stroke, or injury, your doctor might begin with a CT scan or MRI. In addition, you might have to undergo eye and head movement tests. Also, rotary chair testing, posturography, and blood tests are often used to diagnose dizzy spells.

These tests will help your provider find out why you feel lightheaded and dizzy. Then, you can begin a treatment plan.

Dizzy spells typically aren’t cause for concern, but that isn’t always the case. If you have emergency symptoms, do not delay in seeking medical treatment.