The First Thing You Should Do When You Feel Dizzy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 90 million Americans will experience dizziness at some point during their life (via The American Institute of Balance). While it's no wonder why we might feel dizzy after stepping off a fast-spinning carnival ride, other times, a dizzy spell can hit us seemingly out of nowhere. Disorienting and a little frightening, dizziness can feel like a medical emergency, but in what cases is it truly cause for concern?

According to the Mayo Clinic, dizziness can occur as a result of underlying medical conditions, certain medications, motion sickness, anxiety, dehydration, or a decrease in blood pressure, amongst other reasons. Dizziness can feel different for everyone. During a dizzy spell, a person might feel faint, weak, unsteady, or any combination of these sensations. When dizziness is accompanied by feelings of the physical environment shifting around you, this is known as vertigo.

While dizziness can occur in anyone of any age, the likelihood of experiencing dizzy spells increases as a person gets older. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 261 out of over 1,000 participants over the age of 72 reported episodes of dizziness.

The next time you're hit with dizziness, know what actions to take in order to reduce your risk of injury.

When should you seek medical attention for a dizzy spell?

When you experience the first signs of a dizzy spell, you'll want to go ahead and lay down to avoid a potential fall (via National Health Service). Sipping on water is also important — especially if you're dehydrated. As symptoms begin to pass, stand up slowly and cautiously as you begin to move around. 

Experts at Prime Urgent Care say there are also a few things you'll want to avoid doing during a dizzy spell. For example, refrain from tobacco use and minimize your consumption of caffeine and salt, as these can worsen symptoms. If dizziness lasts longer than a few hours, you'll want to consider visiting an urgent care center. In the event that your dizziness is accompanied by vertigo symptoms, blurred vision, chest pain, numbness in the arms, or difficulty speaking, be sure to seek prompt medical attention, particularly if you are over the age of 60.