Why do people get lightheaded?
Lightheadedness is a common complaint in internal medicine, and can have three main causes: orthostatic hypotension, cardiac causes, or vasovagal syncope. It is important to get checked if this is a new symptom for you.
Transcript: "So lightheadedness is a really common complaint in internal medicine and the causes can range from benign to serious. I will encourage you to get checked if this is a new symptom that you have. But maybe just describing an approach that many physicians take to it will be helpful. The language you use is really important. When we say dizziness, your health care provider usually thinks of dizziness as an altered relationship in space. And vertigo is the description of a motion sensation that's often described as spinning, either the room is spinning around a person or the person is spinning around in a room. And those causes of dizziness and vertigo are separate than lightheadedness. Now lightheadedness really has three main causes in internal medicine. One is orthostatic hypotension, your blood pressure dropping as you go to a sitting or standing position. The second is cardiac causes, so the heart's just not able to respond appropriately to get enough blood to the brain and you get symptoms of lightheadedness. And that can be due to an arrhythmia or to a valvular abnormality. And the final one is vasovagal syncope, which is actually quite common. And we have a nerve in our body, the vagus nerve, that when stimulated can really slow down the heart rate and cause symptoms of either almost fainting or fainting itself. And a number of things can stimulate your vagus nerve such as pain. So when people that faint, when they get their blood drawn, it often makes you think of vasovagal syncope. Thank you very much and keep the questions coming."