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When Should I See a Doctor for Dizziness?

We’ve all experienced dizziness sometimes, whether it’s the feeling that accompanies standing up too quickly, meeting the eyes of your latest crush, or missing too many meals. Those types of dizziness are typically fleeting and easily managed or corrected, but there are other forms of dizziness that can be more serious.

So, if you feel dizzy, how can you know which type of dizziness you’re experiencing, or whether you should seek medical attention?

What Causes Dizziness?

Dizziness can be caused by a variety of factors, from the environment to nutrition to medical conditions. Some of the common causes of dizziness include:

  • Motion sickness
  • Inner ear problems
  • Side effects of medication
  • Dehydration or lack of food/low blood sugar
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Migraine headaches
  • Concussions
  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Motion sickness
  • Panic attacks and panic disorder

Are There Different Types of Dizziness?

While there are multiple different causes of dizziness, the symptoms typically fall into two different categories – lightheadedness and vertigo.

  • Lightheadedness is the feeling that you’re about to faint. It’s caused by a drop in blood pressure and blow flow to the head/brain.
  • Vertigo is the feeling that the room around you is spinning, even though you’re not moving. Vertigo can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

How Do I Know if I Should See a Doctor About My Dizziness?

About 20 to 30 percent of people experience dizziness, so a bout of dizziness isn’t necessarily something to immediately worry about. However, if you’re a normally healthy person who experiences an unusual bout of dizziness, it can make sense to visit an urgent care clinic to check in with a medical professional.

When to Visit an Urgent Care after Dizziness

If your dizzy symptoms don’t resolve after a few hours, or after you make lifestyle changes (getting hydrated, reducing caffeine, etc.), visiting an urgent care facility can be a prudent decision.

Visiting an urgent care facility is especially important when your dizziness has a sudden onset or feels especially aggressive (accompanied by nausea or difficulty walking).

At the urgent care facility, the medical professionals may be able to assist you by completing a medical exam and ordering tests or scans. The urgent care team can also support you by providing medications that will help your symptoms to subside and allow you to function normally again.

When to Visit the Emergency Room after Dizziness

You should certainly see a doctor or visit an emergency room without delay if your dizziness is accompanied by other unusual symptoms. If you experience symptoms like blurred vision, slurred speech, pain/numbness (especially in your arms), nausea, headache, chest pain or shortness of breath, these can be signs of a serious health issue that you should address immediately.

If dizziness (particularly of the vertigo variety) lasts for more than a few hours and you are over the age of 60, you should visit an emergency room as quickly as possible.

As you age, feeling dizzy or losing balance can be a more common sign of a serious health issue like a stroke, where blood flow to the brain is reduced. In addition, the combination of dizziness with symptoms like high blood pressure can be very concerning and also indicates the need for a visit to the emergency room.

What Special Precautions Should I Take if I Feel Dizzy?

When you’re feeling dizzy, you should give yourself a little extra care and attention. These precautions can help you avoid adding other injuries or symptoms that can complicate your dizzy spells.

  • Instead of trying to tough it out or power through it, move slowly and gauge the impact of your movements on your dizziness.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water or an electrolyte beverage; this can be helpful with dizziness that’s related to dehydration.
  • Reduce consumption of items that may increase dizziness. Caffeine, tobacco and salt all fall into this category.
  • Brace yourself. Don’t be embarrassed to use support, like a cane, walker or stair/wall rails. While dizziness is often not a cause for concern on its own, you could injure yourself by falling when dizzy, which could lead to more serious issues.
  • Make wise decisions about driving. You should be aware of whether dizziness might impact your ability to successfully drive or transport yourself to a medical facility. Don’t hesitate to ask for help/assistance from a friend or family member, rather than putting yourself in danger operating a motor vehicle during a dizzy spell.

Dizziness is certainly not a fun symptom to deal with; a bout of lightheadedness or vertigo can leave you shaken up and wondering if you may have bigger health concerns to deal with. however, thanks to medical technology, it can often be easy to treat or resolve dizziness and to determine whether it’s a temporary issue or a symptom of a bigger underlying health issue.

Our Prime Urgent Care team can help you manage your symptoms, seek to discover the root cause of your dizziness, and make it easier for you to make it through the inconvenience of dizzy spells. If you’ve been worried about dizziness and the impact it’s having on your life, drop in for a visit and let us talk with you about ways to support you, mitigate your symptoms and get you back steady on your feet.

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