Causes of Nausea & Dizziness

Dizziness, or feeling unbalanced or lightheaded, and nausea, the feeling that precedes vomiting, are symptoms of numerous of conditions. In some cases, dizziness and nausea are brief, mild and temporary symptoms, caused by riding on a roller coaster or consuming small amounts of harmful bacteria. In severe cases, dizziness and nausea may indicate a serious health condition that requires medical attention. If your symptoms are severe or persistent, seek guidance from your doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning occurs when a person consumes a food contaminated with toxins, such as bacteria. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, more than 75 million people suffer from food poisoning annually, particularly during summer months when food may not be properly chilled, a common trigger for bacterial growth. Nausea and dizziness are common symptoms of food poisoning that may appear promptly after eating or within 12 to 72 hours. Additional symptoms of food poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, body aches and fever. Most mild to moderate cases of food poisoning in healthy adults alleviate naturally within several days. Elderly individuals, children, people with weakened immune systems and those who experience severe diarrhea or vomiting may require hospitalization. To prevent food poisoning, wash your hands regularly, avoid undercooked meats, eggs and dairy products and foods that have surpassed expiration dates.


Vertigo refers to the a false sense of motion or spinning that usually results from problems with nerves and balance in your inner ear. Severe vertigo may cause nausea and vomiting, in addition to dizziness. Ear problems, migraines, riding on planes, boats or roller coasters, and more serious problems, such as stroke, brain hemorrhage or multiple sclerosis, may cause vertigo. Dizziness and nausea associated with vertigo may be treated with BPPV, a procedure that involves your doctor maneuvering the position of your head in order to move loose particles that are causing problems. Medications, dietary changes and surgery are additional treatment forms. Untreated vertigo can lead to physical injury and accidents. For best results, seek proper testing from your doctor at the onset of dizziness and nausea.

Anxiety Disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety on occasion. Intense, recurrent or long-term anxiety may indicate anxiety disorder, a psychological condition characterized by obsessive thoughts and worry that deter from a person's usual life. Anxiety may cause nausea and dizziness as physical reactions to emotional fears or paranoia. People with anxiety disorder may experience panic attacks, acute fear-induced episodes that may also cause dizziness and nausea, as well as heart palpitations or difficulty breathing. According to the Cleveland Clinic, anxiety disorder is one of the most common psychiatric disorders to affect the general population. Anxiety is treatable, often through individual therapy and/or medication. If you suspect anxiety disorder as the cause of your symptoms, seek prompt guidance from your doctor.