Causes of Dizziness and Disorientation

Written by tracy hodge | 13/05/2017
Causes of Dizziness and Disorientation
A viral infection of the inner ear can cause dizziness. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Dizziness often occurs when a person stands up too quickly or spins around in a circle. However, chronic or severe dizziness and disorientation in the absence of spinning or standing up quickly can be a debilitating condition. Dizziness can have many different causes, such as an ear infection or vertigo. In some cases, dizziness is caused by a much more serious condition such as a stroke.


Dehydration is a heat-related disease that often causes dizziness and disorientation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, children and adults over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of developing dehydration. This serious condition occurs when the body loses vital fluids and important electrolytes. The most common causes of dehydration are vomiting, diarrhoea and overexposure to heat and sun. Dehydration symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, disorientation, thirst, infrequent urination, increased heart rate, dry mouth, dry mucous membranes, dry skin and fatigue. Children who become dehydrated may exhibit symptoms such as failure to produce tears, dry mouth, failure to urinate, high fever, listlessness, irritability and skin that remains raised when pinched.


Vertigo is a common cause of dizziness and disorientation. Benign positional vertigo is caused by an inner ear disturbance and is most noticeable after changing head positions quickly. This condition is caused by the dislodging of calcium deposits in the inner ear, which float in the tube of the ear sending the brain mixed signals on the position of the person's head causing dizziness. The primary symptom associated with benign positional vertigo include a spinning sensation, which is usually caused by a quick head movement or tilting the head upwards. Other symptoms may accompany dizziness, including vomiting and visual disturbances.

Inner Ear Infection

An inner ear infection known as Labyrinthitis is a cause of dizziness in many people. This condition usually occurs after someone has been sick with an upper respiratory infection or an ear infection. Labyrinthitis causes the inner ear to become inflamed and irritated, which can produce dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, hearing loss in one ear, ringing in the ears and difficulty focusing the eyes. Those who drink heavily, smoke, are under stress or who have been sick are at an increased risk of developing Labyrinthitis.

Neurological Causes

In rare instances, dizziness and disorientation can be caused by serious neurological conditions. Stroke, multiple sclerosis or MS and hemorrhaging of the brain can all cause severe dizziness. Serious conditions such as these usually have multiple symptoms such as becoming uncoordinated, slurred speech, visual disturbances and facial numbness. If you or someone you know has severe dizziness coupled with any of these symptoms, consult a doctor or seek emergency medical care immediately.

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