About 50% of patients report dizziness after a mild head injury. Dizziness can be a difficult thing to describe. Below we explain the main types of dizziness, and what you can do about them.
Types of Dizziness
1. Lightheaded Feeling
If you have ever fainted, you will know what this is! If you haven't it may come as a new sensation to you. Typically, this occurs when people are standing or if they have just stood up. It is a lightheaded feeling, sometimes with a rush of noise or fuzziness in the ears, a dimming of vision and often nausea. Doctors call this sensation presyncope. When someone actually passes out they call this syncope.
The causes of this include, standing up too quickly, painful stimuli (like having blood taken or being at the dentist). Its more likely to happen in hot places or if the person is eating. Men are especially prone to this when they are urinating while standing (especially in the middle of the night).
Faint feelings can also occur when people hyperventilate. This can happen during panic attacks but also a more longstanding symptom in relation to breathing too fast or deeply.
2. Feeling of Movement
This is when people describe a feeling of movement even when they are still. The movement may be a spinning, rotating movement or a rocking movement like being on a boat. The medical term for this is vertigo.
Vertigo is quite common after mild head injury and can be a very frightening experience.
The most common cause of vertigo relates to problems with the structures in the ear which control balance. These are called semicircular canals. We have one set of semicircular canals in each ear. Due to a head injury, bits of grit can get lodged in these and cause vertigo. This is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
3. Spaced Out Feeling
This may be dissociation, a feeling that you are distant or detached either from your environment or your body.
4. Bodily Feeling of Unsteadiness
This is also called dysequilibrium. It is a feeling sometimes compared to being on ice skates. Its not so much a feeling of dizziness in the head. More a general feeling of unsteadiness as is something is wobbling around inside and could lead to a fall.