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Causes of Sudden Dizziness

author image Hannah Rice Myers
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.

Dizziness is a symptom of many conditions. It can cause feelings of light-headedness, weakness and unsteadiness. Some people may feel as if the room is spinning. explains that dizziness is one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor, though it is rarely the sign of a life-threatening condition. Treatment depends on the cause and the severity of the cause.

Inner Ear Problems

The inner ear is responsible for balance and is made up of nerves and structures known as the vestibular system, as explains. This system senses movement and changes in head position; problems with this system is known as vertigo. This particular problem causes dizziness from quick movement in the head such as when sitting up too quickly or moving around too fast. In severe cases, nausea and vomiting may also accompany it.


Presnycope is the medical term doctors use when a patient feels faint or light-headed without losing consciousness. Additional symptoms of presnycope include nausea and clammy skin. One of the causes of this condition is a sudden drop in systolic blood pressure, or the top number in a blood pressure reading. This not only results in dizziness, but also feelings of faintness. states that this usually happens when a person stands up too quickly.

Medications and Chemicals, a physician-driven website, says that certain medications cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. These medications include anti-seizure medications, tranquilizers and sedatives. Certain chemicals such as lead and mercury are responsible as well. As Healthcommunities explains, all of these things can result in ear poisoning, which causes damage to the inner ear. Long-term use of antibiotics cause permanent damage, while diuretics, aspirin and over-the-counter cold medications are responsible for short-term damage.

Neurological Conditions

In rare cases, dizziness indicates a more serious condition such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or a brain hemorrhage. If this is the case, additional symptoms will follow and include double vision, weakness or numbness in the face, severe problems with balance and slurred speech. The University of Maryland Medical Center adds that a heart attack may contribute to this as well.

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