What causes light-headedness?

Written by rhonda campbell
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What causes light-headedness?
Low blood pressure can cause dizziness. (TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images)

The Mayo Clinic reports that lightheadedness might be described as feeling woozy, dizzy or out of balance. You may feel as if you are going to faint when you experience lightheadedness. Causes for the sensation vary.

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Low blood pressure

Low blood pressure occurs when the amount of blood sent from the heart decreases. It can also occur when the blood supply received by the brain lowers or drops. Medications for conditions such as depression, physical pain or even high blood pressure can trigger the state. If a medication interferes with the signals that the brain sends and receives from its neurotransmitters, it can cause blood pressure to become low, causing lightheadedness.

Irregular heart rate

A slow heart rate, medically referred to as bradycardia, can cause lightheadedness. Arrhythmia, neurological disorders such as Parkinson's, and hypertension or high blood pressure can cause lightheadedness. These conditions diminish the amount of blood that flows from the heart to the brain. Parkinson's causes lightheadedness, because the disease creates an imbalanced condition in the central nervous system, which affects the body and the brain's ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

Stress

The Mayo Clinic reports that anxiety or stress-related conditions such hyperventilating and panic attacks cause lightheadedness. These stress-related conditions change the brain's pH, which triggers a feeling of dizziness or wooziness. If stress causes the heart rate and blood pressure to quickly rise or drop, lightheadedness could occur.

Vertigo

Meniere's Disease and viral or bacterial infections to the ear can cause vertigo. The infections cause fluids in the inner ear to become imbalanced. If the inner ear becomes inflamed because of an infection, you might have a sensation that the room is spinning. Vertigo can cause you to feel light-headed for a few minutes or for as long as several hours. Hearing loss or pressure in your ear might occur before you experience lightheadedness.

Considerations

Lightheadedness could be a symptom of a severe or chronic medical condition. If left untreated, the condition could worsen. Persons experiencing lightheadedness should contact their physician to be evaluated. Immediate steps that you can take if you experience lightheadedness include lying flat on your back. This can help increase the blood supply to your brain. Check with your GP to see if you can lower medication dosages. Avoid alcohol, since drinking may cause lightheadedness.

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