Harvard Health Letter

Lightheaded? Top 5 reasons you mightfeel woozy

Dehydration, medication side effects, sudden blood pressure drops, low blood sugar, and heart disease or stroke may be to blame.


Image: iStock

Feeling woozy, lightheaded, or a little faint is a common complaint among older adults. Although it's not usually caused by anything life-threatening, it could be, so you need to be careful.

"Don't ignore it. Even if the lightheadedness does not have a serious cause, it could lead to serious injuries from a fall. And at the worst, the cause may itself be life-threatening," says Dr. Shamai Grossman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School.

If you feel lightheaded, Dr. Grossman recommends having a drink of water or orange juice and lying down. If symptoms last more than 15 minutes, he says it's time to seek medical help in an urgent or emergency care setting. Even if symptoms are brief, and even if you think you know the cause, report the lightheadedness to your doctor.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »