Dizziness In Children Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

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Dizziness in children can be due to diminished blood circulation to the brain for brief periods. They may explain feelings of faintness or lightheadedness when they are dizzy. In most cases, dizziness may not be accompanied by any obvious signs and symptoms of any illnesses. However, persistent dizziness can risk a child’s safety and well-being. Therefore, you may seek pediatric care to identify and treat the underlying causes of dizziness.

Read this post to know the causes, symptoms, risk factors, complications, and treatment for dizziness in children.

In This Article

Symptoms Of Dizziness In Children

Lightheadedness is a symptom of dizziness in a children

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The common symptoms of dizziness in children include

  • Lightheadedness
  • Balance problems, including loss of balance and a feeling of unsteadiness
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Blurred vision for a brief moment
  • The feeling that the world around them is revolving

Based on the severity, your child may experience mild, moderate, and severe dizziness.

In mild dizziness, the child may feel slight lightheadedness but can walk normally and perform their activities. In moderate dizziness, the child may feel weak, and the dizziness could affect their ability to stand and take part in activities such as walking and running. In severe dizziness, the child may not be able to stand, and the lightheadedness may worsen, making the child feel as though they are on the verge of fainting (1).

protip_icon Experts say
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about one in four children and adolescents have fainted at some point in time (10).

Causes Of Dizziness In Children

Often, dizziness could be due to weakness, but sometimes, it can signal an underlying medical condition. Here are a few causes of dizziness in children.

1. Prolonged standing

Dizziness due to prolonged standing commonly affects children who have a slender build and reduced blood volume. When the child stands in the same position for longer periods, the blood tends to pool in the legs, slowing down blood supply to the brain. Often, the symptoms of dizziness may subside in 30-60 seconds, and the child may seem well and free of any symptoms if they remain upright or are held upright (2).

2. Orthostatic hypertension (OHT)

Orthostatic hypertension is a condition characterized by an increase in blood pressure when in the upright position. Studies suggest that OHT can increase the risk of hypertension in young adults. The common symptoms of OHT include dizziness, headache, chest tightness, chest pain, palpitationsiXAbnormal heart rhythms often caused by stress, anxiety, or medical conditions. , and syncope (fainting or passing out). Sudden postural changes, prolonged standing, emotional stress, and a stuffy environment can trigger OHT (3).

3. Dehydration

Dehydration may cause dizziness in children

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Children may also feel dizzy when they are dehydrated. When there is excess water loss from the body, it can cause lightheadedness and syncope. Other signs of dehydration include dry lips, dry tongue, fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, and lethargy (4).

4. Ear infections

Conditions such as labyrinthitisiXAn inner ear infection that may cause symptoms such as loss of hearing, dizziness, and vertigo. (problem inside the inner ear) and vestibular neuritis (inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear) can cause sudden dizziness in children. Ear disorders, such as Ménière’s disease, can lead to intense dizziness and a persistent ringing in the ears. Ear infections are often self limiting, but the doctor might prescribe antibiotics if there is any bacterial infection (5).

5. Anemia

It is a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells, resulting in reduced oxygen flow to the organs. Some common signs of anemia are dizziness, tiredness, fatigue, general body weakness, loss of appetite, pale skin, and low immunity (6). If your child often feels dizzy, it is important to get their hemoglobin levels checked.

6. Vestibular migraine

According to the The Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics the estimated total prevalence of pediatric migraine in the US is 10%. This could be caused by a hereditary condition, lack of sleep, dehydration, or allergy to certain foods. Although the exact cause is unknown, experts believe that it might be due to the constriction of blood vessels around the brain. Besides dizziness, vestibular migraine is characterized by motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and loss of balance (7).

7. Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood (BPVC)

The cause for this condition is not known; however, it is thought to be a precursor to migraine at an older age. It is characterized by symptoms such as nystagmus (fluttering or abnormal eye movements), loss of balance, vomiting, pale appearance, sweating, and head tilt. It typically affects children aged 3-4 years, and most children outgrow these symptoms as they get older (8).

8. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels may also cause dizziness. For proper functioning of the brain, glucose is essential, as it is the primary source of energy. When blood sugar level drops below normal, the brain may not receive an adequate supply of glucose to function properly. This lack of fuel can lead to various symptoms, and dizziness is one of them (9). Children without diabetes may also experience hypoglycemia. Irregular eating patterns, delayed meals, or high physical activity without sufficient food intake are a few factors that cause the sugar levels in the body to drop (10).

9. Other causes

Concussion, dizziness in children

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Dizziness in children can also be caused by a concussioniXA severe injury that disrupts normal brain functioning, leading to symptoms including headache, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. , multiple sclerosisiXA chronic autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system, leading to dizziness, fatigue, and loss of balance. , type 1 diabetesiXAn autoimmune condition, in which the body fails to produce sufficient insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. , juvenile arthritisiXA chronic inflammatory condition affecting children, characterized by swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints. , and usage of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (9).

Motion sickness may also cause vomiting and dizziness in some children. Speaking about how motion sickness (car sickness) contributed to her son’s dizziness and nausea, Liz, a mother, shares, “The first time it (the son’s puking) happened, my son was 18 months old, and I thought it had something to do with what he had had for lunch that day. The second time, I thought maybe the milk he drank was bad. The third time, while I was pulling over to start cleaning us all up again, it dawned on me. This was happening every time we drove out of our small town. Which meant any car ride over 20-25 minutes, which meant he was ‘carsick’ (i).”

protip_icon Things to know
Overheating, strong emotions in response to blood or pain, reaction to scary or shocking incidents, hyperventilating due to anxiety or fear, and breath-holding spells may also cause dizziness in children (14).

Risks And Complications Of Dizziness

Children who are malnourished or those who have a family history of autoimmune diseasesiXA group of medical conditions where the body’s immune system erroneously attacks healthy cells. are at a higher risk of developing dizziness.

As dizziness is a symptom of an underlying problem, the complications depend on the severity of the underlying issue. Also, frequent episodes of dizziness may lead to fainting, which can cause injury and affect children’s well-being


Diagnosis Of Frequent Dizziness

Audiometry can help diagnose the cause of dizziness in children

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If your child often complains of dizziness, or if you spot the signs, it is best to seek medical advice. Your doctor would do a physical examination and take your family’s medical history to determine the underlying cause. They may also recommend tests such as audiometryiXA test used to determine a person’s hearing ability. , vestibular function testsiXA set of tests performed to determine a person’s hearing function and inner ear functioning. , electronystagmographyiXA test that determines eye movements, used to assess the cause of certain conditions such as dizziness and vertigo. , blood tests, CT scans, and X-rays.

Treatment For Dizziness In Children

Iron-rich diet can help manage dizziness in children

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The treatment for dizziness depends on the underlying cause. However, the first line of treatment for dizziness involves asking the child to sit with their legs at an elevated position. This helps the blood to circulate to the brain.

Dizziness is often a self-limiting condition. However, if the dizziness persists, then it is best to seek medical advice. Here are a few ways to manage dizziness in children (11).

  • Prescribing medications such as antibiotics, decongestant, or antihistaminesiX A class of medications used to treat allergies by blocking the action of histamines (allergens). in the case of ear infections.
  • Administering antidepressants to alleviate migraine-related vertigo or dizziness
  • Instructing your child to get up from the bed slowly and avoid sudden changes in position
  • Giving them plenty of water and juices to replenish the lost body fluids
  • Ensuring they shift their body weight from one leg to another or distribute the weight equally on both legs when they have to stand for long hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I stop my child from being dizzy?

Encouraging them to drink plenty of fluid and water, especially during hot days, preventing them from overeating salt, nudging them to eat their meals and snacks regularly on time, and ensuring that they get enough sleep and rest are some ways that prevent your child from getting dizzy (1).

2. When should dizziness in my child make me worry?

If your child is experiencing severe dizziness, bleeding after fainting, has been complaining of severe headache, increased heartbeat is weak, or experiences disorientation and confusion before or after fainting, you should immediately take them to the emergency room. However, if your child has been experiencing mild dizziness, ear congestion, fever, or other symptoms, contact your doctor within 24 hours of fainting (1).

3. Is dizziness in children common?

Dizziness is less common in children than in adults (11). Moreover, some causes of dizziness may not be commonly seen in children. For example, severe dizziness or true vertigo due to middle ear disease is rare in children (12). However, a sensation spinning from standing up too quickly, dehydration, skipping meals, and being under the sun for a long period, that goes away is usually not a cause of concern (1).

4. How long could a bout of dizziness last in my child?

Spontaneous bouts of dizziness may last between 20 minutes to one hour (13). However, the duration may extend to two hours or several days based on the cause (12).

Dizziness, which could result in an unalarming condition, should not be ignored as it may also indicate an underlying condition such as OHT, anemia, or diabetes. If your child often feels dizzy, you must consult your child’s doctor for a timely diagnosis. Dizziness in children is first approached with an effective management technique followed by medications depending on the severity. In addition, staying aware of its causes and triggers can help cope with dizziness in children, while following some tips may help prevent it.

Infographic: Tips To Deal With Dizziness In Children At Home

Dizziness is usually harmless and may resolve on its own. However, persistent dizziness in children may require medical attention. Scroll through the infographic below to learn about some effective ways of managing the condition in children. However, if dizziness persists, contact your child’s pediatrician promptly.

how to manage dizziness in children(infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Dizziness in children could be driven by various conditions such as infections, dehydration, and weakness.
  • However, frequent dizziness could indicate a serious condition such as anemia or concussion.
  • Your kid’s doctor may suggest evaluations based on the severity and cause.
  • This condition is easily manageable with medications and home care.

Dizziness and vertigo can be scary for children and adolescents. And the causes may vary for every child. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms and how to manage them.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Pediatric Dizziness; Children’s National Hospital
2. Julian M. Stewart and Debbie Clarke; He’s Dizzy when he Stands Up.” An Introduction to Initial orthostatic Hypotension; HHS Author Manuscripts (2011).
3. Yang Hu, Hongfang Jin, and Junbao Du; Orthostatic Hypertension in Children: An Update; Frontiers in Pediatrics (2020).
4. Naila A. Shaheen et al.; Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics; BMC Public Health (2018).
5. Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis; C.S Mott Children’s Hospital
6. Phyllis Atta Parbey et al.; Risk Factors of Anaemia among Children under Five Years in the Hohoe Municipality, Ghana: A Case-Control Study; Hindawi (2019).
7. Thyra Langhagen et al.; Vestibular Migraine in Children and Adolescents: Clinical Findings and Laboratory Tests; Frontiers in Neurology (2014).
8. Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo of Childhood (BPVC); Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
9. Vertigo (Dizziness); Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
10. Dizziness and Fainting in Children and Teens; American Academy of Pediatrics
11. Dizziness; Seattle Children’s
12. Kevin A. Kerber; Vertigo and Dizziness in the Emergency Department; NCBI(2008).

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