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Lightheadedness is a feeling where you feel that you are about to pass out or faint. Although, lightheadness is not a serious problem, but it might need a medical examination, if it occurs regularly. Let’s learn more about lightheadedness from the following paragraphs.

What is Lightheadedness?

Lightheadedness is a generalized feeling of dizziness when one is usually sitting or standing upright. This feeling can be recurrent, transient or may be chronic in some cases. Lightheadedness is when you feel as if your head is suddenly light and weightless. This is not a very serious condition and usually resolves on its own. However, in some cases, it may indicate an underlying medical condition that requires medical attention.

Lightheadness usually occurs when the brain is not able to process impulses from various organs that help in maintaining the sense of balance. These organs include the eyes, inner ears and the nervous system. When the information is scrambled, it causes the brain to get contradictory impulses, leading to dizziness or lightheadedness.

So, when you get up from a seated position suddenly or too quickly, it could lead to lightheadedness. This sudden change in position causes decrease in blood flow to the brain. Thus, you may want to lie down or sit down again to shake off the lightheadedness.

What Causes Lightheadedness?

There are different causes of lightheadedness. These causes include:

  • Temporary decrease in blood or oxygen supply can lead to lightheadedness
  • Allergies
  • Cold and flu
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Use of tobacco like smoking
  • Use of tranquilizers like diazepam
  • Serious health conditions that can lead to lightheadedness includes:
  • Cardiac ailments such as heart attack, bradycardia, or other arrhythmias
  • Internal bleeding
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Anxiety disorders like hyperventilation, panic attacks
  • Dehydration

Diagnosis of Lightheadedness

When you visit a doctor, he will ask you certain questions such as any other symptoms accompanied a lightheadedness episode. He might also want to know if you have a cold, flu or any other illness when the episode began. How long did an episode last and if the episode comes and goes. He will conduct some tests like:

  • Check your blood pressure
  • Hearing test
  • ECG
  • Balance testing (ENG)
  • MRI

Treatment for Lightheadedness

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Lightheadness can be treated by lying down flat when experiencing an episode. This helps the body not worry about gravity and supply blood and oxygen to the brain. Soon, you will feel better.

If you experience recurrent episodes of lightheadedness, visit a doctor. He may conduct a physical examination and some diagnostic tests to find out any underlying medical condition. If your medical condition is known, then he may help in treating the problem. Antihistamines,sedatives and anti-nausea medications may be prescribed.

Make sure you drink plenty of water or fluids during an episode. If you suffer from vomiting or nausea, you may need to be given intravenous fluids. Eat something sweet or sugary and avoid standing up. You should sit with your head positioned betweenyour knees to increase blood supply to the brain. Drink lemonade with salt to help balance the electrolytes that are lost due to excessive sweating in extreme heat.

Lightheadness can be prevented, if you avoid sudden change in posture. Make sure you get up gently from a lying position. Sit for some time and then stand up. If you are standing, grab hold of something to maintain balance. Visit your doctor immediately, if you experience vomiting, nausea, fainting spells, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 01, 2015

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