Almost everyone has had a feeling of unsteadiness or a whirling sensation in their heads at some point in their lives. Usually it's chalked up to dizziness, but dizziness is a broad term that can mean different things to different people. It's a common complaint, but it can be serious. Dizziness has no specific medical meaning, but there are four common conditions that can be considered types of dizziness:
- Vertigo. The feeling of motion when there is no motion, such as you spinning or your environment spinning. Spinning yourself round and round, then suddenly stopping, can produce temporary vertigo. But when it happens in the normal course of living, it signals a problem with the vestibular system of the inner ear -- the body's balance system that tells you which way is down and senses the position of your head. About half of all dizziness complaints are vertigo.
- Lightheadedness. Also called near syncope, lightheadedness is the feeling that you are about to faint. It is commonly felt by standing up too quickly or by breathing deeply enough times to produce the sensation.
- Disequilibrium. A problem with walking. People with disequilibrium feel unsteady on their feet or feel like they are going to fall.
- Anxiety. People who are scared, worried, depressed, or afraid of open spaces may use "dizzy" to mean frightened, depressed, or anxious.
Frequent dizziness sufferers may complain of more than one type of dizziness. For instance, having vertigo may also make them anxious.
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