What Causes Dizziness?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Have you ever felt dizzy before? What does dizzy even mean? And if you were dizzy at one point did you ever figure out why? This lesson goes over some of the many causes for dizziness.

What Is Dizziness?

Have you ever been light-headed? If not, then perhaps you simply lost your balance due to an episode of unsteadiness. Maybe you had the sensation of tilting at some point in your life. Or maybe you thought you or the world around you was spinning like crazy. These are just some of the way that dizziness may be described. It's a very general term for a lot of different possible problems. So let's go over the many causes of dizziness.

The Vestibular System & Brain

Have you ever used a level to figure out if a surface you are working on or constructing is, in a manner of speaking, properly balanced? That level may have had some fluid and an air-bubble in it to indicate if everything is balanced horizontally and/or vertically. If that fluid or the container housing the fluid in the level was damaged in any way, you would have a tough time telling if your project is properly balanced or not.

This bubble level helps keep your project level and balanced thanks to some fluid encased in a tube.

Well, believe it or not, a similar system within your body uses fluid to determine the position of your body in the vertical and horizontal plane. It's called the vestibular system. And like the level, if the fluid or the parts housing the fluid are damaged, the person may have a hard time approximating their position in space, and may feel dizzy as a result.

Fluid within the inner ear (called endolymph) helps keep our balance like the bubble level.

As such, dizziness may be caused by any number of issues related to the vestibular system. This is the part of the inner ear that helps maintain your balance. Inflammation of the inner ear disrupts its normal function like a short-circuit would disrupt the function of home's electrical system. This inflammation may even stem from an infection, such as one by a bacterium or virus. Trauma, like a head injury after skiing into a tree without a helmet, may trigger all sorts of dizzy spells by damaging the vestibular system. A tumor growing around the inner ear can do the same.

Finally, Meniere's disease is another possibility. No one is sure why Meniere's disease occurs but some believe that too much fluid in the inner ear that's partially responsible for balance is the cause of this disease.

Speaking of a head injury. Such an injury can also impact your brain. Your brain, like the inner ear, is partly responsible for many of the sensations related to dizziness. For instance, there is a part of the brain called the cerebellum that is very important for maintaining our posture and balance. If it is traumatized, such as by a stroke, this may cause a person to feel dizzy. This can also happen if part of the reptilian portion of our brain, the brainstem, is affected by a stroke as well.

Other Causes

Related to the nervous system, is a disorder called multiple sclerosis (MS) that may have, as just one part of its signs and symptoms, dizziness. MS occurs partly because the insulation around a nerve cell is destroyed. This would be like destroying the insulation around a wire, it wouldn't work very well. The destruction of the nerve cell's insulation also causes it to malfunction, which may lead to dizziness.

Some medications can lead to dizziness. These include sedatives and tranquilizers that may be used while getting you ready for surgery. The drugs may also include anti-depressants or drugs used to stop seizures.

Other causes of dizziness include:

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