It can be difficult to precisely define what symptoms define dizziness to different people. For some, it is lightheadedness, that feeling that you might fall or pass out. Other people say that it feels like the world is spinning, tilting, or otherwise moving around them. Both types can lead to nausea. Any condition that affects the brain can cause these sensations. The causes of dizziness and the causes of vertigo can be similar in some cases, and in others can be very different, therefore must be looked at separately. For the purposes of this article, “dizziness” will be taken to mean lightheadedness, and “vertigo” will refer to the false sensation of movement.

Potential causes of dizziness are many, including:

- A brief drop in blood pressure to the head, usually from getting up too quickly or especially from returning to the upright position after being upside down.
- Overall low blood pressure.
- Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
- Allergies, flu, and colds.
- Stress, anxiety, pain attacks, emotional shock.
- Intake of excessive alcohol, illegal drugs. Also a side effect of some prescription medications.
- Use of tobacco, hyperventilation; anything that unbalances the amount of oxygen getting into the blood.
- Dehydration, including from vomiting or diarrhea.
- Fever or heat illness.
- Blood loss, such as with serious injury or heavy menstruation.
- Kidney failure, leading to blood poisoning.
- Sometimes, more rarely, a heart arrhythmia. If experiencing unexplained fainting spells, it is usually a good idea to have a doctor check it out.

Some potential causes of vertigo include:

- Motion sickness (especially if having been spinning).
- Very excessive alcohol consumption, as well as illegal drug intake or prescription overdose.
- Migraine headaches.
- Inner ear infection.
- Benign Positional Vertigo: A condition where tiny crystals form in the inner ear fluid, and when the head is moved in a certain way, these crystals shift and cause ripples in the fluid.
- Head trauma/injury.
- Decreased blood flow to the base of the brain.
- Growths, both cancerous and non-cancerous, within the brain and/or behind the eardrum.
- Stroke; especially if any loss of body movement or function accompanies the vertigo.

When diagnosing the cause of dizziness or cause of vertigo, it is helpful to look for other accompanying symptoms, such as ringing of the ears, fever, headache, vomiting, loss of hearing, speech slurring, and loss of muscle strength or coordination.

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