When I teach my colleagues and students to interview their patients about their “history of dizziness and vertigo,” I teach them to conduct the interview with the same series of questions that we traditionally use for investigating complaints of pain.

For example, some of the questions we ask include:

How long ago did this start? What were you doing right before you felt this for the first time? How bad is it, on a scale of 0-10? How long does it usually last? What makes it better? What makes it worse? Is anything giving you relief? Is it constant? Are any certain times of day better or worse? How is this affecting your sleep? Your mood? Your ability to work? What would you like to be able to do that you cannot do right now?

Without having the detailed answers to those questions, I can only offer three general tips to answer the question: What Does it Mean when I Feel Dizzy?

Tip #1: If you feel dizzy, you may be at risk of falling. It is recommended for you to sit down, lie down or ask for help before you fall. You may need assistance to walk around safely. Falls can result in serious, life-changing injuries and should be avoided if possible.

Tip #2: If you feel dizzy, you may need to seek medical attention from your primary care provider. In some cases, you may even need emergency medical care. Sometimes dizziness can be as simple as needing to drink more water on a hot day and sometimes as serious as a stroke or a new heart condition. If you are not sure what is causing your dizziness, talk to your doctor about it.

Tip #3: If you feel dizzy, you may need to consult a Vestibular Specialist, or a healthcare provider who is an expert in dizziness. The field of dizziness and vertigo is a rapidly emerging field and picked up momentum in the early 90’s. Many practicing healthcare providers may not be current with the newest concepts in evaluating and managing patients with dizziness and vertigo, unless it has been a focus of their career.

So before you get discouraged and lose hope for a better life, you can search for a Vestibular Specialist at the Vestibular Disorders Association.

You can live a fulfilling life, even with occasional episodes of dizziness, vertigo and imbalance, if you seek out the proper healthcare, empower yourself with knowledge, and ask your friends and family for compassionate support.