What causes nausea and dizziness

Suddenly dizziness - what's behind it?

Dear reader,

“The ground sways”, “everything turns” or “the feeling of falling to one side” - those affected can experience vertigo in very different ways. This information tells you how dizziness develops and which treatments are possible.

At a glance: dizziness

  • Various organs and perceptions are involved in making us feel in balance: the eyes, the ears, the balance organs in the inner ears, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and emotional sensations.
  • If there are impairments here, we perceive it as dizziness. This can express itself very differently.
  • Those affected often perceive dizziness as threatening. Most of the time, however, the cause of the dizziness is harmless. It often stops on its own.
  • Dangerous causes of dizziness are rare. To rule this out, you should consult a doctor. Describe the vertigo to him as precisely as possible. This is the best way for him to determine the cause.

What is dizziness?

When our equilibrium is disturbed, we feel insecure in space. Walking and standing are difficult. Often there are other symptoms such as sweating, nausea or vomiting. Visual or hearing impairments are also possible. Those affected often experience dizziness as frightening. General practitioners state that around every 13th patient visits their practice because of dizziness. Older people are more likely to report dizziness than younger people.

How does dizziness develop?

Various senses provide the brain with information about the position of the body in space. This involves: vision, the perception of balance in the inner ears, as well as the sense of touch and depth in the skin, muscles and joints. When these senses send different information, the brain gets “mixed up”. Sometimes the cause lies in the brain itself: it no longer processes sensory impressions properly. This is the case, for example, when it is not supplied with blood properly, when nutrients are lacking, or when it is impaired by toxins. Psychological perception also has an influence on whether we feel in equilibrium or not. So dizziness can have many different causes.

What the doctor should know

From the type and duration of the vertigo, the doctor can easily deduce the cause. Describe your vertigo as precisely as possible:

How do you feel about the dizziness?

  • "Like in a carousel" - vertigo
  • "Like boating, swaying"
  • "I feel light-headed."
  • "I'm insecure when walking, my head is clear."

How long does the dizziness last?

  • Seconds, minutes, hours, days or longer?
  • Does it keep coming back or does it persist?

What else can be important:

Certain head movements, physical exertion or straightening the body from a lying position can cause dizziness, as can new glasses, certain medications and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Also tell your doctor if you have any other symptoms, such as vomiting, hearing problems, palpitations, or a sad mood.


After the doctor has questioned you in detail, he will examine you physically. For example, it looks at your movements, eyes, ears and cervical spine. He measures blood pressure and pulse. And he does various tests to check your brain and nervous system.
Often, after questioning and physical examination, he can tell what is causing the dizziness. Additional technical examinations or referral to a specialist are seldom necessary.

What does the doctor conclude from this?

In about half of those affected, the doctor finds no physical cause. Then, for example, the following are possible:

  • Dizziness in old age: With increasing age, the organs and perceptions that are important for balance can change, for example the eyes, ears or the nerve sensitivity of the legs.
  • Psychogenic dizziness: It arises from emotional stress such as family and professional problems. It is often experienced as drowsiness and can occur with an anxiety disorder or depression. Other signs such as vomiting are unlikely to occur.

If the doctor finds a physical cause, the most common position is benign positional vertigo. This vertigo occurs as a seizure several times a day for days to weeks. It takes a few seconds to minutes. It is triggered by rapid head movements, for example when getting up out of bed. The cause are tiny "ear stones" that cause confusion in the organ of equilibrium. Rarer causes of vertigo are other diseases in the inner ear or brain, for example inflammation or migraines. Cardiovascular diseases, circulatory disorders in the brain (strokes), hypoglycaemia, problems with the cervical spine, nerve damage and poisoning can also trigger dizziness.


Dizziness is uncomfortable and affects everyday life. However, it is rarely dangerous. In this case, specialists should take care of the care. Often no treatment is required. The body slowly gets used to the dizziness on its own. Then the complaints stop. You should only take medication for dizziness for a short time, if at all. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort. But the body can only adapt to vertigo in the long term without medication. With some types of vertigo, symptoms can be improved in a targeted manner:

  • psychogenic dizziness: emotional and medicinal support
  • Dizziness in old age: early balance training and physiotherapy
  • Benign positional vertigo: learn certain movement techniques (positional maneuvers)

What you can do yourself

  • If the dizziness has recurred, persists for a long time, or is very severe, you should consult a doctor.
  • Describe your dizziness and other complaints as precisely as possible. The doctor can determine the cause from your description.
  • Try to be calm and be patient. The dizziness usually stops on its own

Information sheet

Patient information: "Suddenly dizziness - what's behind it?" (pdf - 70 kB)

Source: National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV)