How can dizziness or vertigo be treated?

A doctor should evaluate persistent feelings of dizziness. Careful review of the symptoms and, in some cases, additional medical testing may reveal a reversible cause. When dizziness is not treatable, particularly in cases of instability caused by neurological disease, physical therapy and use of assistive devices may reduce the risk of falls and injury.

The first thing that needs to be addressed when dealing with a dizzy patient is to clarify what exactly that word means to them. Dizziness can further be described as light-headed or faint, off balance, or vertiginous. This differentiation is important to establish from the beginning as it dictates the treatment.

If you are feeling light headed, or like you may faint, that may be a sign of low blood pressure, dehydration or low blood sugar. Drink a lot of fluids, make sure you are not skipping meals, and go through any medications you are taking with your primary physician as many can cause low blood pressure and subsequent dizziness. 

If your feelings are more that of disequilibrium or room spinning, you should see a neurologist. After obtaining a full history and performing a careful neurologic examination, you may need to undergo an MRI to make sure the sensation isn't secondary to something in your cerebellum- which is our brain’s center of balance. Often, feeling off balance does not arise from your brain but rather, your inner ear. In this case, you may be sent to an ENT for further work up. When the dizziness stems from an ear issue, there is not only medication to alleviate the symptoms but also exercises that you can do at home to help prevent the onset of dizziness.

Treatment for vertigo and dizziness are based on the cause of each condition. The first step is to diagnose and then treat cause. Fortunately, vertigo and dizziness are often easily diagnosed and treated. Medications such as antihistamines and promethazine for nausea and vomiting may be prescribed in more severe cases; however, medications, in general, are not usually recommended to treat just the symptoms of your vertigo and dizziness.
Vertigo/dizziness is an interesting and common problem. It, unfortunately, is very difficult to treat. Keep yourself well hydrated and ask your doctor if any of your medications can be adding to the problem. Often times it will go away on its own, if it is from a benign cause. In severe chronic cases of vertigo, a special type of rehabilitation can be useful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.