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9 Reasons Why You Feel Lightheaded—And When To Be Concerned

Never fainted? It's terrifying, but 90% of people who have fainted are absolutely perfect, says Venkatesh Thiruganasambandamoorthy, MBBS, clinical epidemiologist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Regarding the remaining 10%, an underlying health problem, such as an abnormal heart rhythm, is to blame, and this could mean potentially serious health problems on the road.

Fainting, no matter how this happens, is the result of an explanation by Lawrence Phillips, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Division of Cardiology at Langone Medical Center of the University of New York. "The cause can come from different parts of the body, including the blood pressure of a person going down, the heart rate decreases, and neurological reasons unrelated to the heart," he says. "We are trying to find out why blood pressure or heart rate will go down. Some of these reasons are common and not worrisome, but others need more evaluation."

Even if you do not faint, this drop in blood pressure or heart rate can cause dizziness, this very specific feeling but hard to describe as you might faint. (Vertigo, on the other hand, may include dizziness, but it also feels like the room is spinning around you.)

It's hard to know when fainting or dizziness is a concern. That is why Thiruganasambandamoorthy has developed a screening tool that could help predict if a person who has fainted is likely to have an underlying health problem. Below, 9 potential causes. And whatever happens, play it safe by seeking medical attention for any new symptoms, or those who do not resolve themselves.

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