Head Injury and Dizziness

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
TBI Symptom Management: Dizziness After Brain Injury

What is dizziness?

Dizziness may make you feel unsteady and like things are moving when they are not. Symptoms of dizziness may include:

  • feeling like there is rotation, spinning or movement
  • feeling unsteady, like you are losing your balance
  • feeling hazy or like you are about to faint/pass out

Why am I dizzy?

Dizziness is one of the symptoms that you may experience after a concussion. During the week or two following a concussion, the vast majority of patients will recover from their dizziness and other associated symptoms. There are several possible causes of your dizziness including:

  • migraines
  • a problem in your inner ear
  • an injury to the muscles and nerves in your upper neck
  • minor changes in the parts of your brain that control balance
  • minor changes in the parts of your brain that control eye movement and vision
  • a medication side effect
  • low blood pressure
  • anxiety

What can I do?

  • maintain your daily routine
  • be physically active but stop if you get dizzy
  • minimize alcohol and caffeine
  • drink plenty of water
  • get plenty of sleep
  • talk to your provider about medications and supplements you are taking
  • discuss options for treatment with your provider
  • keep a dizziness journal following the example below and share it with your provider
What makes you dizzy (i.e., position, movement, activity)? How long are you dizzy (i.e., seconds, hours)? What makes you feel better? Is there a certain time of day your dizziness is worse?
       
       
       
       

 

When Should I Seek More Help?

If you experience any of the following:

  • worsening dizziness
  • passing out and blackouts
  • double vision or loss of vision
  • slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • weakness on one side of the body
  • suddenly losing hearing,
  • worsening headache or hearing that comes and goes
  • drainage or bleeding from your ear
  • dizziness caused by changes
  • dizziness and chest pains in pressure or sound

Exercises You Can Do at Home

To help you feel better, your provider/therapist can teach you exercises to do at home. It is normal for your dizziness to get worse temporarily when starting exercises.

Before doing any type of exercise, make sure you are in a safe place in case you lose your balance.

  • start by sitting down on a sofa or a bed
  • once you are comfortable, you can try the exercises while standing next to a countertop or in a corner

Focus Exercises

Look at a letter or a word on the wall 3 feet away. Keep the target in focus as you slowly turn your head left and repeat by turning your head to the right at a comfortable speed. As your dizziness improves, you can move your head faster as long as you can keep the target clearly in focus.

Standing Balance

Standing Balance Excercise

Keep your balance with your feet together for 30 seconds. If this is too hard, start with your feet slightly apart. If you can do this, increase the challenge by continuing in the following order:

  • standing with one foot in front of the other with eyes open
  • standing on one foot with eyes open
  • standing on both feet, closing your eyes
  • turning your head right and left, or looking up and down with your eyes open

If you have thoughts or feelings of hurting yourself or others, seek emergency care. Call the Military/Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-TALK (8255), send a text to 838255 or chat online at veteranscrisisline.net. Another helpful resource is Military OneSource at: 800-342-9647 or MilitaryOneSource.mil.

Posted on BrainLine January 27, 2016. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

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Comments (8)

Hi, last Nov 2017 I had a motorcycle accident and hours later I woke up in the ER of the hospital. My wound was here on my right forehead. Scan was clear. Now, it is fully healed but I still get dizzy. It is not as often as after the accident but the dizzy feeling is the same. Whenever I'm dizzy, it feels like I am spinning and melting down literally like ice thus rendering me immobile. When I lay down I feel more dizzy so I end up sitting, my back on a wall to get some balance. After a month or two, I also experience sharp whistling in my right ear. Also, right eye lower lid is twitching as often as ever. What should I do to help myself? I live in the Philippines. Please help me as I wanna get better. I am a mom of one very young child, 31.

I am wondering if i have vertigo - about 3 years ago i had a very serious fall - broke both bones in my lower leg and had to have a nail from the knee to the ankle - was knocked out - became aggressive and extremely argumentative and finally i had landed across a step on the small of my back with all my weight and have done something to my back - the ambo service only documented the leg break - nothing else - since this happened i am in crippling pain with my lower back - still can get aggressive and argumentative (i have no patience with ditherers) and my head spins out - i have been know to pass out and twitch on the floor/ground and my bladder and bowel empty - yuck - its embarrassing when this happens - sounds are louder - my visions is blurry and the pains in my body intensify - i have been for an MRI and numerous doctors visits - even choppered into the nearest hospital for it - nothing - all the neurologist has said is - "You are having fainting spells" get real - can anyone else enlighten me?? Thanks

I had a concussion and blacked out for about 2 minutes a couple of months ago. Scan had a drop of blood on my brain. 5 hours later, none or less. Lately the vertigo lasts most of the day. Bit sometimes occasionally even if I am sitting still. I "feel" it like a strain besides the spinning.

Dizziness caused by changes. Meaning what kind of changes?

I had a self-discussion about the same thing!

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That’s what I was thinking. Perhaps changes of head position??

It is probably meant that if you get dizzy when the surroindings change? Like if a lot of people enter/leave the room, etc.