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Woman sitting at table with head in her hands and lines indicating dizziness
Woman sitting at table with head in her hands and lines indicating dizziness
Woman sitting at table with head in her hands and lines indicating dizziness

by Joon Nah
updated July 18, 2020

Dizziness is a complex, vague, and can cause great concern and anxiety for those afflicted with it. For many, it’s a poorly understood condition and seeing 3 different health professionals can leave you with 3 different causes for your symptoms. We’ve provided some clarity by presenting the 10 most common reasons why you may be experiencing dizziness.

1. Postural Hypotension

Also known as orthostatic hypotension, this is the temporary dizziness that occurs as a result of a sudden drop in blood pressure with sitting or standing quickly.

2. Circulatory problems

Conditions that affect general blood supply through the body can create symptoms of dizziness. Common causes include anaemia (decreased red blood cell numbers), hormonal changes (as with menstrual cycles and menopause), and dehydration.
Recent evidence supports heart disease as one the leading causes of symptoms of dizziness.

3. Neurological conditions

Often more serious causes of dizziness, conditions that affect our brain can include multiple sclerosis (nerves lose the ability to communicate with each other), cerebral vascular accidents (loss of blood flow to a part of your brain), and Parkinson’s Disease (a neuro-degenerative disease due to the loss of local dopamine).

4. Anxiety and Depression

Dizziness is often associated with a decrease in coping ability with respect to psychological disorders such as with anxiety and depression. These “thoughts” can exacerbate into true physical signs and symptoms, dizziness being one of the most common.

5. Cervicogenic Dizziness

Dysfunctions of your cervical spine (neck) including chronic sprains/strains, acute injuries, and degenerative disc disease can result in a disruption to the mechanics of the joint, muscles and nerves. This can potentially send abnormal messages to the balance centres of your brain about positioning, which can create dizziness.

6. Migraines

Migraines are the severe headaches and sensitivity to light and sound that is thought to be related to unusual nerve and blood flow activity of the head and brain. The majority of migraine sufferers report having dizziness with their attacks.

7. Medications

Medications that treat seizures, that are given for anxiety/depression and sleeplessness, and even antibiotics that treat inner ear infections have been shown to increase the risks for dizziness. Common drugs such as aspirin and diuretics can also cause temporary symptoms of dizziness.

8. Hypoglycaemia

Drops in blood sugar levels can certainly cause dizziness. This can be temporary as in diabetics that miss a meal, those who exercise excessively, or consume too much alcohol. Or can be a result of more serious conditions of kidney failure, liver disease and severe infections.

9. Breathing disorders

Individuals who have various forms of respiratory disease or are in respiratory failure can suffer from dizziness due to the lack of appropriate oxygen distribution throughout the body. However in some cases it can simply be related to hyperventilation that is commonly related to certain psychological disorders.

10. Vestibular dysfunction

Problems with our inner ear and its connections to the brain (the vestibular system) appears to be an extremely common source of dizziness. Conditions such as BPPV, vestibular neuritis/Labyrinthitis, Meniere’s, can confuse the way the balance centres of our head sense position and movement. It’s this inner ear “confusion” that creates sensations of dizziness.

Luckily, these vestibular conditions are highly treatable. Our clinic see hundreds of patients every year stumble in with vestibular problems and eventually walk away feeling better than ever. Vestibular rehabilitation can absolutely change symptoms of dizziness. Contact us to find out if we can help you.

Other Causes

There are many other causes for dizziness. For more information, please search our Resources page, or click here for more details on Vestibular Conditions.


Joon Nah

Joon Nah        BScPT
Certified Vestibular Physiotherapist

Joon is a highly sought-after vestibular physiotherapist practicing in the Greater Toronto Area. He found the Cornerstone Dizziness Clinics in 2008 and enjoys assessing and providing treatment for patients with difficult presentations. He also regularly mentors other vestibular physiotherapists.

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