Skip to Main Content
A primary care physician talks with her male patient about his wellness plan while they wear masks.

Dizziness and vertigo treatment options

Dizziness is a disorienting sensation where one's surroundings seem to spin or sway, often accompanied by unsteadiness or lightheadedness. It can give rise to a feeling of losing balance or a disconnect between body and environment. 

Common causes of dizziness include:

  • Inner ear issues: Problems with the inner ear, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, and Meniere's disease, can disrupt the body's sense of balance and lead to dizziness.

  • Vestibular disorders: Disorders affecting the vestibular system, which controls balance and spatial orientation, can result in dizziness. Conditions like vestibular migraines and vestibular neuritis fall into this category.

  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake can lead to decreased blood volume and low blood pressure, triggering dizziness.

  • Anemia: A deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood can impair oxygen delivery to the brain, causing dizziness.

  • Low blood sugar: A sudden drop in blood sugar levels, often seen in individuals with diabetes, can result in dizziness.

  • Medication side effects: Some medications may have dizziness as a side effect, especially those that affect blood pressure or alter brain chemistry.

  • Cardiovascular issues: Conditions like arrhythmias, heart attack, or poor circulation can disrupt blood flow to the brain, leading to dizziness.

  • Neurological disorders: Neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease can interfere with the brain's ability to process sensory information, causing dizziness.

  • Anxiety and stress: Intense stress and anxiety can trigger dizziness through effects on the nervous system and blood flow.

  • Ear infections: Infections in the ear, particularly the middle ear, can impact equilibrium and contribute to dizziness.

  • Motion sickness: Dizziness can result from conflicting sensory signals when the inner ear perceives motion but the eyes do not.

  • Low blood pressure: Abrupt changes in blood pressure, such as when standing up too quickly, can cause temporary dizziness.


Dizziness types and their influences

Dizziness can manifest in various forms, each with its own characteristics. Some common types of dizziness include:

  • Vertigo is a sensation of spinning or rotational movement, as if you or your surroundings are moving even when they're not. It's often associated with inner ear issues, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) or Meniere's disease.

  • Lightheadedness is a feeling of near-fainting or almost losing consciousness. It can be caused by factors like low blood pressure, dehydration, anemia, or sudden position changes.

  • Presyncope is a state of feeling faint or woozy, often accompanied by a drop in blood pressure. It's typically caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

  • Disequilibrium involves a loss of balance or unsteadiness, making you feel as if you might fall. It can result from conditions affecting the inner ear, nerves, or musculoskeletal system.

  • Some people experience a sensation of floating or being disconnected from the ground. This can be related to inner ear disturbances or neurological issues.

  • Unsteadiness refers to a constant feeling of imbalance, making it challenging to maintain a stable posture or gait. It can be caused by problems with the vestibular system or musculoskeletal issues.

  • Psychogenic dizziness is primarily related to psychological factors, such as anxiety, panic attacks, or hyperventilation. It may not have a clear physiological cause.

  • Motion sickness occurs when there's a conflict between visual input and the inner ear's perception of motion. It's common during travel, especially in vehicles or boats.

  • Visual vertigo is triggered by visual stimuli, such as patterns, crowds, or certain environments. It often occurs in individuals with vestibular disorders.

  • Cervicogenic dizziness, caused by issues in the neck (cervical spine), can lead to symptoms of unsteadiness and may be related to neck pain or injury.


It's important to understand the specific characteristics of your dizziness and seek medical evaluation from a St. Joseph Health primary care provider if you experience persistent or severe symptoms. Identifying the type of dizziness can aid in determining its underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Dizziness relief and remedies

Relief from dizziness can be achieved through various treatment options, depending on the underlying cause. Here are some approaches that can help alleviate dizziness:

  • Vestibular rehabilitation: This specialized physical therapy aims to improve balance and reduce dizziness by retraining the brain to process sensory information from the vestibular system and other senses.

  • Medications: Certain medications can be prescribed to manage specific causes of dizziness. For example, antihistamines may help with motion sickness, while vestibular suppressants can alleviate symptoms of vertigo.

  • Epley Maneuver: This technique is used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) by repositioning displaced crystals within the inner ear, helping to restore balance.

  • Hydration and diet: Ensuring proper hydration and maintaining a balanced diet can prevent dizziness caused by dehydration, low blood sugar, or anemia.

  • Lifestyle modifications: Adjustments to daily habits, such as avoiding triggers for motion sickness or managing stress, can significantly reduce the frequency of dizziness.

  • Surgery: In cases of severe or persistent dizziness caused by structural issues, surgical interventions may be considered. Surgical procedures can range from repairing inner ear damage to decompression of nerves.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals cope with dizziness related to anxiety or panic disorders by addressing the psychological factors contributing to their symptoms.

  • Positional exercises: Specific exercises can be performed to alleviate dizziness related to certain head movements or positions, as seen in BPPV.

  • Earwax removal: In some cases, dizziness may be caused by excessive earwax buildup, which can be resolved through safe removal procedures.

  • Treatment of underlying conditions: Addressing underlying health conditions such as Meniere's disease, vestibular migraines, or neurological disorders can help manage dizziness.

  • Stress reduction techniques: Mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation techniques can help manage stress-induced dizziness.

  • Physical activity: Engaging in regular physical activity can improve overall balance and reduce dizziness, especially in cases of age-related balance issues.


When to seek care for dizziness

  • Severe or prolonged dizziness

  • Sudden onset

  • Falls or loss of consciousness

  • New or unexplained symptoms

  • Underlying health conditions

  • Medication side effects

  • Recurrent episodes

  • Persistent anxiety

  • Worsening symptoms

  • Uncertainty

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.

Learn the Stroke Facts