Lightheadedness – What Causes It, and What To Do
A feeling of lightheadedness can overcome you quite suddenly. Because dizziness can sometimes indicate that a fainting spell – a temporary loss of consciousness due to reduced blood supply and oxygen to the brain – is forthcoming within the next few seconds, it’s important to respond quickly and appropriately to the early warning signs.
Activities that cause a rapid rise and subsequent drop in blood pressure, such as rising quickly out of bed, can bring on dizziness and lead to fainting. Other common causes of fainting include excess fatigue, physical exertion in an overly warm environment, coughing hard, fear, severe pain, emotional trauma, the sight of blood, and nervousness that leads to hyperventilation (breathing too quickly).
How to prevent fainting
The following strategies can help prevent a fainting spell:
- When transitioning from lying down to standing, slowly elevate your body to allow it to gradually adapt to its new position.
- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
- If you feel faint or notice that sounds seem to be “fading away,” lie down immediately and prop your feet up so that they are positioned about 12 inches above your heart, and don’t stand up for at least 10-15 minutes or until you feel better. When you are standing or sitting, blood moves away from your head and down into your legs, so lying down with your feet elevated can help even out your blood flow.
How to recognize fainting emergencies
If you see someone faint, you should call 9-1-1 immediately if the victim:
- Is not breathing
- Has sustained an injury
- Has diabetes
- Had complained of chest pain prior to losing consciousness
- Does not regain consciousness within a few minutes
- Has blurred vision, hearing loss, speech difficulties, or mobility issues upon regaining consciousness
While occasional dizziness is not a cause for alarm if you are otherwise healthy, you should consult with a physician if you experience recurrent bouts of lightheadedness for no apparent reason, or if your general wooziness is accompanied by chest pain, blurred vision, hearing loss, headache, neck ache, or a loss of mobility. A doctor can perform a thorough examination to determine if an underlying medical condition, such as an inner ear condition, is present.
If you have questions and would like to consult with a doctor about lightheadedness or for any other reason, you can contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL.