Constant Dizziness: 7 Common Causes (& What to Do)

Constant dizziness is generally associated with problems within the inner ear, like labyrinthitis, or Meniere's disease, but it can also be a sign of diabetes, anemia or cardiac problems. Other symptoms associated with ever-persisting dizziness include loss of balance, vertigo, and a spinning sensation

In addition to these causes, dizziness can also occur with anxiety attacks, when blood pressure is low, with vision problems, migraines, on hot days, or during hot baths. It can also happen after getting up too quickly or from excessive alcoholic drinks. 

Anytime dizziness is a constant and if it becomes uncomfortable, you should see your doctor for assessment and treatment as necessary. 

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Main causes of dizziness

Some of the most frequent causes of constant dizziness are:

1. Labyrinthitis 

Dizziness, vertigo and loss of balance are all conditions caused by labyrinthitis. This is an inflammation of a structure of the inner ear, known as the labyrinth, which is responsible for hearing and balance. This problem is more common in older adults, but it can occur at any age, especially in people who are experiencing heavy stress, or have a history of frequent respiratory infections. 

What to do: If you suspect labyrinthitis, you should see your doctor for assessment. If diagnosis is confirmed, treatment can be initiated. It typically involves the use of prescription medication like antiemetics for nausea and vomiting, or anti-vertigo pills for dizziness. 

2. Meniere's Disease

This is a relatively rare condition that affects the inner ear. It is common to experience dizziness, or a spinning sensation. Generally, dizziness occurs in episodes, but it can be more intense on some days compared to others.

In addition to dizziness, Meniere's disease can cause hearing loss of some frequencies, which can be confirmed with an audiometry test. 

What to do: You should see your doctor to rule out other causes of dizziness first. You may be referred to a specialist to confirm diagnosis and start treatment. Although there is no cure for Meniere's disease, symptoms can be managed with medications, like promethazine for nausea, and with diet changes. 

3. Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is a condition that can occur frequently in people with diabetes, especially if it is not properly managed.

When blood sugar dips too low, it is common to feel dizziness and general malaise, as well as weakness, cold sweats, or tremors

What to do: If you experience any episodes of hypoglycemia, you should try to consume food that is high in simple carbohydrates, like a cup of natural juice or a slice of banana bread. If your symptoms persist for longer than 15 minutes, or if they worsen, you should proceed to the emergency room. Ideally, diabetics should also check their blood sugar before and after eating.

4. Changes to blood pressure 

Just like with high blood pressure, low blood pressure can also cause dizziness and a fainting sensation. This symptom is most common with blood pressure that is less than 90/60 mmHg.

In addition to dizziness, low blood pressure can also cause symptoms like weakness, decreased vision, headache and drowsiness. It is not always easy to identify low blood pressure, however, because symptoms are very similar to other conditions. Therefore, the best way to confirm it is to actually have your blood pressure checked. 

What to do: After measuring and confirming that your blood pressure is low, you should see your doctor to assess what is causing the drop and initiate treatment as necessary. 

5. Anemia

Dizziness and general malaise can also be a symptom of anemia, which occurs with decreased hemoglobin levels in the blood. A low level means that there is a reduction of oxygen and nutrients going to cells throughout the body.

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms can also include pallor, weakness and excessive fatigue. 

What to do: To confirm whether you have anemia, you should see your doctor to order a blood test to assess your hemoglobin levels. If they are low, treatment may involve increasing iron levels through supplementation and diet. 

6. Heart problems

Dizziness and general malaise is common with heart problems, especially if the heart problem is related to a pumping issue. Other common symptoms can include chest pain, leg swelling and shortness of breath.

What to do: You should follow-up with the doctor or cardiologist who is managing your heart illness, so that testing like an ECG or echocardiogram can be ordered to identify the underlying cause.  

7. Medication use

The prolonged use of some medications, like anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antihypertensives or sedatives can cause side effects like dizziness or weakness. 

What to do: If you suspect that your dizziness is related to a medication you are taking, you should follow-up with the prescribing doctor to discuss dose changes or other alternatives. 

When to see the doctor 

You should see your doctor if dizziness persists for longer than 2 days, if it occurs more than 3 times in a month without an obvious reason, or if you are taking medications like antidepressants or antihypertensives and dizziness persists for more than 15 days after starting them.

The doctor will assess you to determine a cause and initiate treatment as necessary. Treatment may involve the use of medications, supplements, surgery or physiotherapy, depending on the underlying cause.