Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I get light-headed?"
Every once in a while I get light-headed for no reason. It takes a minute where I have to sit down to make sure I don't fall over. Why do I get light-headed like this?
Lightheadedness is a commonly encountered complaint seen in the primary care physician. Usually, a thorough medical history and physical exam can establish an underlying cause and then an appropriate treatment course can be prescribed. Some lightheadedness is due to "orthostatic hypotension," in which a change in position from lying/sitting to standing leads to drop in blood pressure. When this occurs, the brain is temporarily under-perfused with blood, leading to a feeling of lightheadedness. These symptoms may become more frequent in the setting of dehydration, or the use of certain medications )(such as those that reduce blood pressure or are used to treat an enlarged prostate). In other cases, lightheadedness may be due to a more serious underlying condition, such as one affecting the heart's ability to maintain a regular rate or rhythm, or a narrowing of the blood vessels leading from the heart to the brain (such as the carotid arteries). If you are experiencing lightheadedness, then you should seek consultation from your primary care doctor. Blood pressure can be measured in a variety of positions, your medication list can be reviewed for potential offenders, and further testing can be done as indicated (by the presence of risk factors for heart disease or advanced age) to come up with an accurate diagnosis.
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