Patient Care — Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
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Dizziness is a feeling of faintness or light-headedness, making it difficult to maintain balance while standing or sitting. See also fainting.
Most causes of dizziness (light-headedness) are minor. It is important to differentiate simple dizziness from vertigo (a spinning sensation or the feeling that you or the room around you is moving). Vertigo often indicates an inner ear problem but it can also signify a problem with the cerebellum or the brainstem.
Serious disorders may cause light-headedness such as insufficient blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, such as can be caused by a rapid drop in blood pressure. Serious disorders that can cause light-headedness (usually in addition to other symptoms) include heart problems such as a valve disorder or heart attack, stroke, and severe hypotension or shock.
Light-headedness is a fainting feeling that often accompanies the flu, common cold or dehydration. Light-headedness without other symptoms is usually not serious.
Most fainting spells are not dangerous, but if there is any question call for medical help. Sudden loss of consciousness (vasovagal faint) happens more easily when a person is upright. A simple faint is rarely preceded by symptoms such as pain, pressure, constriction in the chest or shortness of breath -- but generalized weakness, nausea, tunnel vision, and sweating may occur.
Dizziness can also be caused by a poorly functioning balance mechanism in the inner ear. This balance mechanism also helps control eye movements, so often the environment seems to be spinning around. Most dizziness and vertigo has no definite cause and is commonly attributed to a viral infection of the inner ear especially in young otherwise healthy people. However, vertigo may be a sign of stroke, multiple sclerosis, seizures or rarely, a degenerative neurological disorder. In such conditions, other symptoms and signs usually accompany the vertigo.
Call your health care provider if:
- There has been complete loss of consciousness.
- The room seems to spin around (vertigo).
- Other symptoms are also present, especially chest pain, numbness and tingling, or other serious symptoms.