Once in a while, you may get up too quickly and have to sit back down immediately. That's pretty common for a lot of people, but sometimes the dizziness you feel doesn't have a clear cause. If that's happening to you, you may be asking yourself, Why am I dizzy?

Dizziness can be caused by a wide range of occurrences in the human body, according to Soma Mandal, MD, an internist at Summit Health in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

When people describe dizziness, they usually say they feel faint, woozy, weak, or unsteady. Feeling lightheaded and experiencing vertigo, a.k.a. the false sense that you or your surroundings are moving or spinning, can also be part of the experience, per Mayo Clinic. There are different types of dizziness: central, meaning it’s related to the brain, and peripheral, which can be due to anything outside the brain.

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While dizziness is one of the most common concerns people bring up with their doctors, it’s rarely a sign of anything serious or life-threatening. But if the dizziness is acute, severe, or prolonged, or associated with severe headache, chest pain, or passing out, this should warrant seeing a doctor immediately, Dr. Mandal notes.

Even if you aren’t experiencing severe symptoms, frequent feelings of dizziness can be disorienting or upsetting, so it makes sense that you’d want to find out the issue behind it and do what you can to nip it in the bud. Here are 12 potential reasons you're feeling unsteady on your feet and what you can do to feel better ASAP.

Meet the expert: Soma Mandal is an internist at Summit Health in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

1. You have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

        The most common cause of dizziness is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which can cause intense but brief bouts of dizziness, according to Dr. Mandal. It may also trigger nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, and irregular eye movements, per Mayo Clinic. These symptoms may come and go, or they may stop and then recur after a while.

        “This is usually triggered by the position of the head or the turning position of the body,” she explains. “There are certain maneuvers to treat BPPV and medications like meclizine (an antihistamine used to treat motion sickness and dizziness) can help too.”

        2. You have Ménière's disease.

        If you’re not familiar with this condition, don’t be alarmed—it occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the inner ear, Dr. Mandal says. “The vertigo (spinning sensation) that occurs here is usually long-lasting, can occur with ringing in the ears, a sensation of ear congestion or ringing in the ears,” she adds.

        Causes of Ménière’s disease can include having too much salt in your diet, as well as excess caffeine or alcohol intake and stress. Allergies, abnormal immune system response, head injury, abnormal fluid drainage in your ears, migraines, and viral infections can also bring on the condition, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Most often, several of these factors are at play.

        Making tweaks to your eating habits and an effort to relieve stress can help ease your symptoms, and your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce fluid buildup. Sometimes surgery is required to fix the issue.

        3. You have a migraine.

        Migraines are typically one-sided headaches that can be associated with dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity, Dr. Mandal says.

        For immediate relief, try resting in a quiet, dark room or placing an ice pack on your forehead, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke suggests. A variety of medications for migraines are available to alleviate the associated dizziness and prevent future attacks.

        4. You have labyrinthitis.

        Dizziness can also be a symptom of labyrinthitis, which is an infection of the inner ear, usually triggered by a cold or the flu, says Dr. Mandall.

        “Hearing loss, dizziness, and vertigo are hallmark features of this condition,” she says. “This condition can go away on its own, but medications such as antihistamines, benzodiazepines can be used [to treat it].”

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        5. You have vestibular neuritis.

        Vestibular neuritis, which affects the vestibular nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain, can also be a culprit for dizziness. Similar to labyrinthitis, this condition also causes prolonged vertigo, but usually no hearing loss.

        “Treatment typically involves antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and targeted vestibular therapy with a trained therapist,” Dr. Mandal says.

        6. You have a brain disorder.

        If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or have had a stroke, it’s normal to experience dizziness, Dr. Mandal says. You should talk to your doctor about the best ways to mitigate this effect, as they may want to either adjust your medications or simply recommend specific techniques to target the dizziness.

        7. You have iron deficiency anemia.

        Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when you have low iron, which causes an underproduction of new red blood cells, Dr. Mandal explains. Common symptoms include dizziness and fatigue.

        You can find out if your iron levels are low by asking your doctor to do some bloodwork to test them (or by scheduling through a diagnostic information services provider such as Quest Diagnostics or Labcorp and paying out of pocket). Treatment usually includes making dietary adjustments and/or adding an iron supplement to boost your levels, Dr. Mandal says.

        8. You’re taking certain medications.

        Certain medications such as blood pressure drugs, sedatives, and tranquilizers can cause dizziness, according to Dr. Mandal. Read the labels or talk to your doctor so that you’re aware of potential side effects and so they can advise you on how to take your medication properly to avoid any adverse effects.

        9. You’re dehydrated.

        If you’re not getting enough fluids in and are experiencing dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, dehydration is the likely culprit, Dr. Mandal says. Even if it’s not extremely hot outside or you’re not doing an intense sweat sesh, it’s still important to maintain optimal hydration on a daily basis.

        The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends a minimum of 91 ounces for women, which is slightly more than the age-old eight glasses a day you're used to hearing about.

        10. You have low blood sugar.

        Hypoglycemia, a.k.a. low blood sugar, doesn’t just happen to people with diabetes, though people who take insulin are much more prone to it, says Dr. Mandal. Hypoglycemia can cause dizziness, shaking or trembling, faster heart rate, and extreme hunger.

        You can avoid dizziness by avoiding going too long without eating, and relieve a dizzy spell by lying down or consuming some fast-acting carbs such as juice.

        11. You have low blood pressure.

        Dizziness is also a common symptom of hypotension, or low blood pressure, Dr. Mandal says. In this case, it usually occurs when you stand or sit up too quickly. Low blood pressure often isn’t a concern in and of itself, but you can avoid it by being mindful about standing and sitting up more slowly.

        12. You have a heart condition.

        Certain cardiac conditions such as cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmias, and even heart attack (myocardial infarction) can cause people to feel dizzy, Dr. Mandal says. If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these illnesses, your doctor will warn you about side effects to watch for and how to take your medications properly to ward off any adverse effects. If you haven’t received a diagnosis, stay on top of your annual physical and other doctor visits, and keep your doctor in the know about any unusual symptoms you’re experiencing, including dizziness.

        The bottom line: Dizziness can be a sign of many conditions, or it can simply be due to not eating or drinking enough. Know what to watch for and talk to your doctor if you get dizzy spells on the reg.

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        Emilia Benton
        Contributing Writer

        Emilia Benton is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor. In addition to Runner's World, she has contributed health, fitness and wellness content to Women's Health, SELF, Prevention, Healthline, and the Houston Chronicle, among other publications. She is also an 11-time marathoner, a USATF Level 1-certified running coach, and an avid traveler.