What causes lightheadedness dizziness and weakness?

Updated November 21, 2016

Lightheadedness, dizziness and weakness can be due to temporary conditions or illnesses but also may be symptoms of more serious or chronic conditions. While most times these complaints are due to minor health problems, it is important to pay attention to potential causes and rule out any serious concerns. If symptoms persist, whether or not they seem mild, it is important to talk to your physician.


Allergies, colds and flu can contribute to lightheadedness, as can any illness that causes vomiting or diarrhoea. Vertigo can be caused by illness accompanied by fever, or conditions such as low blood sugar or even chronic stress in some instances.

Emergency symptoms

Sometimes dizziness or related symptoms can indicate a medical emergency. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms are associated with others: blurred vision, an extremely stiff neck, recent head injury, sudden hearing loss or a high fever. Other symptoms that can indicate a serious emergency include impaired speech, loss of muscle strength in arms and legs, difficulty walking or falling, chest pain or abnormal heart rhythm.

Inner Ear Causes

Inner ear problems, which are likely to cause lightheadedness, dizziness or weakness, include Meniere's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vestibular neuritis. In rarer cases, it may be due to perilymph fistula, bilateral vestibular loss or acoustic neuroma.

Neurological and Psychological Causes

Causes which may be related to the nervous system include stroke, migraine, medication side effects and disorders of the cerebellum. Psychological factors contributing to lightheadness, dizziness and weakness include panic and anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and somatisation syndrome.

Other Causes

Other reasons for symptoms such as lightheadedness include high blood pressure, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, circulation problems, hyperventilation and the use of drugs, alcohol or even tobacco.

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About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.