Recurrent dizzy spells shouldn't be dismissed, according to the April issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Any recurrent, sudden, severe attacks or prolonged episodes of dizziness, faintness, light-headedness or vertigo can signal underlying disorders and warrant a visit to the doctor.
Aging increases the risk of certain conditions that cause dizziness and a sense of imbalance. Symptoms can have more than one cause. Often, the underlying conditions aren't life-threatening and can be managed with help from a physician.
Maintaining balance requires that the brain, eyes, sensory nerves and inner ear are all working as a finely tuned system to gather and process information about how the body moves relative to the surroundings. Balance also depends on the heart beating consistently and effectively, as well as the blood vessels maintaining constant pressure and circulating an adequate volume of blood throughout the body.
Other possible contributions to being out of balance include muscle weakening, nerve damage in the arms and legs, anxiety disorders, migraines, central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and certain medications. Especially in older adults, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and medications to control high blood pressure can cause dizziness.
Identifying what's contributing to dizziness is often a process of elimination. The physician will suggest a series of tests to determine if the symptoms stem from inner ear problems and other health concerns that can be treated or managed differently.
Although uncommon, dizziness can signal a serious health condition. A person should seek emergency care when dizziness occurs with:
• A new, different or severe headache
• Blurred or double vision
• Hearing loss
• Impaired speech
• Leg or arm weakness
• Loss of consciousness
• Falling or difficulty walking
• Numbness or tingling
• Chest pain or rapid or slow heartbeat
Any of these signs or symptoms could signal a serious problem such as a stroke, brain tumor or heart disease.
Source: Mayo Clinic, News-Medical