woman feeling unwell and dizzy

Can Dehydration Cause Dizziness?

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in, and it’s something most of us are guilty of from time to time. When your body becomes dehydrated, it will hold onto the water it has left—this can lead to dizziness when standing up too quickly, but other factors can also cause the feeling. Here we look at why and how dehydration can cause dizziness and what to do if this happens beyond just drinking water.

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What Causes Dizziness?

Dizziness is a common and often unsettling sensation that various factors can cause. It can be broadly categorized into three main types: vertigo, lightheadedness, and disequilibrium. Each type of dizziness has distinct causes and characteristics.

Vertigo is characterized by a spinning or whirling sensation as if you or your surroundings are in motion when they are not. It is often related to problems with the inner ear or the vestibular system, which controls balance.

Common causes of vertigo

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): BPPV occurs when tiny calcium particles in the inner ear become dislodged, leading to brief episodes of intense vertigo triggered by head movements.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This inner ear disorder results from fluid buildup and pressure changes within the ear, leading to vertigo, hearing loss, and ear ringing (tinnitus).
  • Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis: These conditions involve inflammation or infection of the inner ear and can cause severe vertigo, often accompanied by nausea and imbalance.

Lightheadedness is characterized by a feeling of near-fainting or a floating sensation. It is usually caused by reduced blood flow to the brain or a drop in blood pressure.

Common causes of lightheadedness

  • Orthostatic Hypotension: This occurs when you stand up too quickly, causing a temporary drop in blood pressure, leading to lightheadedness.
  • Dehydration: Insufficient fluid intake can lead to decreased blood volume, causing lightheadedness, especially in hot weather or after intense physical activity.
  • Anemia: A shortage of red blood cells can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, resulting in lightheadedness and fatigue.


Disequilibrium is a sense of unsteadiness or imbalance without a spinning sensation. It can be associated with various underlying conditions, including:

  • Musculoskeletal Issues: Problems with muscles, joints, or the nervous system can affect balance and lead to disequilibrium.
  • Neurological Disorders: Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can disrupt the body’s ability to maintain balance.
  • Medications: Some drugs, especially those that affect the central nervous system, can cause disequilibrium as a side effect.

In many cases, dizziness is a temporary and benign symptom that resolves on its own or with simple interventions like hydration or changing positions slowly. However, persistent or recurrent dizziness, especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as severe headaches, changes in vision, or loss of consciousness, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Dehydration and dizziness

One of three things could be causing it: A blood sugar imbalance that’s making you lightheaded (hypoglycemia), an overactive thyroid gland that makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure (hyperthyroidism), or a lack of fluid in your body caused by dehydration. If you’re not feeling well-hydrated already, drink lots of water.

Dehydration can lead to dizziness for a couple of reasons: if you’re dehydrated, your blood doesn’t carry as much oxygen to your brain, and if you’re not well-hydrated when you stand up from a lying position, your body becomes unbalanced and lightheadedness results.

Dehydration isn’t just about feeling thirsty – it also affects our blood volume and blood pressure. When we’re dehydrated, our blood volume drops and this can cause our blood pressure to take a nosedive. With low blood pressure, our brain might not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, and that’s when dizziness and lightheadedness can kick in. So, keeping hydrated isn’t only about quenching your thirst; it’s about keeping everything flowing smoothly to avoid those dizzy spells.

Electrolytes are like the body’s conductors, helping with fluid balance and nerve signaling. When dehydration hits, we can lose these essential electrolytes through sweat or not drinking enough fluids. The human brain needs a variety of signals and information to keep us balanced and steady on our feet.

When dehydration comes into play, it can impact this delicate chemistry, affecting our coordination and balance, which can lead to a lightheaded feeling. So, it’s not just about staying hydrated; you also need to keep those electrolytes in check to steer clear of this kind of dizziness.

Dizziness is not only about the physical sensations; it’s also closely tied to how our brain operates. Think of your brain as an orchestra conductor, carefully directing signals to maintain balance and stability. But when dehydration comes into play, it’s like a jarring note in that symphony, resulting in dizziness.

In order to maintain the seamless coordination of your body’s movements, your brain relies on proper hydration. Dizziness extends beyond the physical realm and is intricately linked to brain function. Our brain manages signals for balance and stability. However, dehydration disrupts this coordination, leading to dizziness.

Importantly, dehydration doesn’t solely affect your physical well-being; it also interferes with your cognitive functions and thought processes. Hence, ensuring adequate water intake is crucial to maintaining both the physical and mental facets of your well-being in perfect harmony.

Symptoms of dehydration

Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in. Your body’s natural response to dehydration is to produce adrenaline and noradrenaline, which will help constrict blood vessels near your skin so that less blood leaves your core.

This results in a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to lightheadedness or dizziness. In severe cases of dehydration, fainting may occur.

The most common reason for lightheadedness and dizziness is a drop in blood pressure as a result of dehydration. If you’re experiencing similar symptoms, drink up! 

blodstream blood red blod cells

Thirst is usually an indication that your body’s dehydrated. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day to avoid future bouts of lightheadedness or dizziness.

What you should do when you start getting dizzy

If you’re dizzy, take a few minutes to rest before attempting to stand. Once you feel well enough to move, slowly get up and walk around for a bit. 

If your dizziness isn’t relieved by these actions, drink some water and try again in 20 minutes. If your symptoms still haven’t subsided after an hour of rest or drinking water, it could be that something else is wrong—and a trip to your doctor may be in order.

Dehydration is a common cause of dizziness and lightheadedness because your body isn’t receiving enough fluids to function properly when you’re dehydrated. 

water with lemon and mint

If you drink water or some other type of rehydrating beverage and your symptoms don’t go away quickly, it could be an indication that you have another medical condition that needs to be addressed.

Preventing dehydration on a day-to-day basis

It’s important to drink water daily. The general rule is that you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water (if you weigh 150 pounds, for example, then you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day). It’s also helpful to schedule regular times throughout your day when you can step away from your desk and head to the bathroom for a quick break.

For those that struggle to maintain enough water consumption or to look for a quick pick me up when you’re dehydrated, consider IV therapy. These can be done right from your home during a time that’s convenient for you. Companies like Drip Hydration will deliver an IV bag containing saline and vitamins directly into your bloodstream, replenishing fluids and nutrients in minutes. 

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This is a great option if you are on medication or a lifestyle that prevents you from drinking enough liquids, such as diuretics, blood pressure medications, and others.

When is IV the best option?

Contact our offices and our team of medical professionals led by founders Dr. Abe Malkin and Dr. Neal Kumar, will answer your queries.

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When we fall short on our fluid intake, dehydration steps onto the scene, causing a dip in our blood volume and blood pressure. This decline in blood flow to our brain can set off dizziness, occasionally making it feel like we’re teetering on the edge of a fainting episode. Electrolyte imbalances can also be part of the dizziness narrative, particularly when we lose these vital minerals due to sweating or inadequate hydration.

Moreover, the impact of dizziness extends beyond the purely physical realm. Dizziness possesses the capability to interfere with our mental and neural processes. Our brain manages a complex interplay of signals and inputs to maintain our sense of balance. However, the introduction of dehydration into this symphony disrupts the delicate balance, resulting in the disconcerting sensation of being unsteady and out of sync.

Prioritizing adequate hydration is the cornerstone for avoiding these uncomfortable symptoms and safeguarding your overall well-being. Understanding the link between dehydration and dizziness empowers us to take the right steps in prevention and treatment. So, keep that hydration engine running smoothly for a dizziness-free, healthy you!

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