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Dizziness When Sitting Down

Dizziness happens when your brain receives conflicting or erroneous messages from your eyes, ears or nervous system regarding your body’s place in your surroundings 2. While it happens most often when you are standing or moving, some types and causes of dizziness can occur when you are seated, especially those related to inner ear disturbances 2.

Is This an Emergency?

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

Types

There are several types of dizziness, but vertigo and lightheadedness can both hit when you are sitting down 2. Lightheadedness, or presyncope, is defined as the sensation that you are about to faint, according to MayoClinic.com 3.

Possible Causes

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Vertigo is usually caused by an inner ear disturbance when nerves there send messages to your brain that don't mesh with what your eyes and body are telling it, according to Patient UK 2. If small particles normally present in the fluid of the inner ear become clumped when you move your head, BPV results. Meniere's disease, which involves too much fluid in the inner ear, can cause:

  • severe
  • prolonged spells of vertigo or BPV
  • up to half an hour
  • according to MayoClinic.com 3

The Merck Manual of Health & Aging indicates that nausea and vomiting can sometimes accompany severe vertigo, as can nystagmus, which is a name for abnormal jerky eye movements 1. Nystagmus is usually an indication of an inner ear disorder. Vertigo can occur simultaneously with temporary hearing loss or tinnitus, as well, according to MayoClinic.com 3. Presyncope might be accompanied clamminess and nausea.

Other Considerations

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If you are pregnant and you experience dizziness while seated, it could have nothing to do with your inner ear or other likely causes 2. According to maternal child health nurse Beth M. Iovinelli, if you lean back while you are sitting down, your vena cava, the artery that transports blood from your lower body to your heart, can become compressed by your growing uterus. This can cause a brief spell of dizziness until you sit upright again 2.

Recommendations

Vertigo might worsen if you remain in a seated position, so lie down until the episode passes. If you are prone to dizzy spells, you should avoid any over-the-counter medications that cite dizziness as a possible side effect, such as antihistamines or sleeping aids 2. Caffeine, tobacco and alcohol can also intensify dizzy spells. If you regularly experience dizziness when you are not on your feet, you should consult your doctor to find out why, especially if the spells are accompanied by a headache unlike any you have experienced before, a stiff neck, a change in your vision, difficulty speaking or chest pain, advises MayoClinic.com 23.

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