Causes of Dizziness and Nausea

Dizziness and nausea are two symptoms that often happen at the same time. If you're feeling dizzy and nauseated, there's a host of possible causes, including illness, pregnancy, motion sickness, and more.

Identifying the underlying reason for your symptoms will help you and your healthcare provider find a treatment that's right for you.

This article discusses possible causes of feeling dizziness along with nausea. It also covers treatment options for each cause and how to know when you should call your healthcare provider.

sick woman on couch

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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a condition that affects the tiny crystals in your inner ear, called otoconia, that help you maintain your balance as your body changes positions. Sometimes, these crystals come loose and begin to float around in the inner ear.

When otoconia move out of place, BPPV can occur. This condition causes vertigo—a spinning sensation that results in feeling nauseous and dizzy.


BPPV can sometimes go away on its own without treatment. However, this condition is often treated with physical therapy using a technique called the Epley maneuver. During this treatment, the therapist will take you through a series of movements to move the otoconia out of your inner ear. Once they are out, your body can reabsorb them and your symptoms should resolve.

There aren't any medications used specifically to treat BPPV, but if your nausea is severe, your healthcare provider might prescribe anti-nausea medications to treat your symptoms. Medications can treat acute vertigo that lasts a few hours to several days.

Alcohol Misuse

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause dizziness and nausea to occur together. Alcohol affects structures in your inner ear that help maintain your balance.

Under normal circumstances, fluid in your inner ear moves as your body moves. This fluid movement puts pressure on a structure in the ear that contains nonmotile (nonmoving) cells called stereocilia. Stereocilia send electrical signals to your brain about your movement and the position of your body.

Drinking alcohol affects the thickness of the fluid in your inner ear, which can cause the stereocilia to send wrong information to your brain, making you feel like the ground is moving or you are spinning.

At the same time, consuming alcohol can cause nausea. Alcohol increases stomach acid production and the buildup of fat in your liver—both of which can cause nausea.


The best way to treat dizziness and nausea from alcohol overuse is to cut back on the amount you are drinking, or eliminate it completely. If you do drink, eat a full meal first to help slow the absorption of the alcohol to reduce your risk of feeling ill.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, also known as carsickness or seasickness, often causes dizziness and nausea. This condition can also cause cold sweats, headache, and vomiting. Motion sickness occurs when your brain is "overstimulated" by sights, sounds, and body movements.


Motion sickness typically resolves on its own after you stop moving. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick, including:

  • Avoid reading in the car.
  • Take motion sickness medication prior to travel.
  • Sit in the front seat or next to a window.
  • Increase airflow—roll down the window or crank up the air-conditioning.
  • Stay hydrated, but avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid overeating before travel.


Dizziness and nausea are common symptoms of pregnancy. Nausea is most common in the first couple of months. It can happen at any time of day, but is often referred to as morning sickness. Dizziness also occurs in pregnancy due to hormonal changes that lower your blood pressure.


While you might not be able to prevent pregnancy-related symptoms, there are steps you can take to reduce dizziness and nausea. These include:

  • Moving slowly when changing positions
  • Eating small meals throughout the day
  • Avoiding hot baths or showers
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Avoiding lying on your back

If nausea and dizziness persist, talk to your healthcare provider about medications that may help and are safe to take during pregnancy.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, also called low blood glucose or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops to an unhealthy level. Hypoglycemia is common in people with type 1 diabetes and in those with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or other diabetes medications.

In addition to nausea and dizziness, low blood sugar can cause shakiness, confusion, sweating and chills, a fast heartbeat, and pale skin.

A blood glucose reading of lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered low for many people with diabetes. However, the number that indicates a low level can vary from person to person.


The first-line treatment for hypoglycemia is called the 15-15 rule. With this, you eat at least 15 grams of carbohydrates (in the form of glucose tablets, fruit juice, honey or raisins), waiting 15 minutes, and checking your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar remains below 70 mg/dL, repeat the steps until your blood sugar is above that level.

If necessary, your healthcare provider may want to adjust your medication regimen to avoid future episodes of low blood pressure.

Vestibular Migraines

A vestibular migraine is a type of migraine characterized by vertigo, which causes nausea and dizziness. This type of migraine is thought to affect 10% of people with migraines.

As with other types of migraines, symptoms of vestibular migraines include light and sound sensitivity. However, unlike other types of migraines, they don't cause headaches.


Vestibular migraines are treated the same way as other types of migraines. Know what your triggers are so you can avoid or prepare for them. Common migraine triggers include weather changes, certain foods, skipping meals, flashing lights, and lack of sleep.

In addition to lifestyle strategies, migraines are often treated with medications and neuromodulation devices.


Anxiety is a condition caused by overwhelming worry and fear. It can lead to a host of physical symptoms, including dizziness and nausea.

Anxiety triggers the body's fight-or-flight response, which increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. This can lead to dizziness or light-headedness. The body's response to anxiety also shifts blood away from your stomach, which can lead to nausea.


Anxiety can often be treated with lifestyle interventions. These can include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Journaling
  • Healthy diet

Anxiety that interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks can be a sign of an anxiety disorder or other mental health condition. Mental health conditions often require professional interventions, such as mental health counseling or medications.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If episodes of dizziness and nausea last more than 24 hours or interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks, see your healthcare provider.

Dizziness and nausea can also be symptoms of serious conditions such as a stroke or heart attack. These situations require immediate medical attention.

Other signs of stroke include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness and/or numbness on one side of the body
  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Balance issues
  • Confusion
  • Severe headache

Other signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Pain radiating into the arms, neck, back, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat


Dizziness and nausea can occur together for a variety of reasons. These symptoms can be related to conditions such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), low blood sugar, pregnancy, anxiety, motion sickness, vestibular migraines, or drinking alcohol.

Treatment for dizziness and nausea depends on the underlying cause. Less commonly, these symptoms can be a sign of something more serious, such as a stroke or heart attack.

When you’re trying to determine the cause of your dizziness and nausea, take note of when your symptoms occur. In some cases, it can be easy to connect the dots—particularly if you have motion sickness and have been riding in a car or if you drank too much alcohol. Many times, simple changes to your lifestyle can bring significant relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you cure dizziness naturally?

    Natural treatments for dizziness depend on the cause. For example, dizziness from motion sickness can often be relieved naturally by wearing acupressure motion sickness wrist bands.

  • Is there a correlation between the feeling of nausea and dizziness and my cardiovascular health?

    Yes, dizziness and nausea together can be symptoms of a heart attack in some cases. Other symptoms include chest pain, pain in the arm or jaw, and shortness of breath.

19 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.