It’s common to feel dizzy after a concussion. It usually goes away on its own within a few days to weeks. But if symptoms persist, a doctor may consider treatments, including medication or lifestyle and dietary changes.
Behind headache, dizziness is the
Post-concussion dizziness is usually due to an issue with the part of your brain that controls balance. But it can also stem from other causes. If your dizziness doesn’t go away after a few weeks, speak with a doctor to identify the exact cause and consider treatment options.
Dizziness stems from issues with your vestibular system. The vestibular system is a connection between your inner ear and the part of your brain that controls balance.
A concussion is a change in typical brain function that results from trauma. Such trauma can affect your vestibular system and affect your sense of balance.
A moderate or severe concussion can also damage the nerves in your autonomic nervous system (ANS). This can affect your heart rate and blood pressure, which can also dizziness.
Types of dizziness
There are four types of dizziness. You can have one or more of these after a concussion.
- Vertigo: experiencing a spinning sensation
- Disequilibrium: having a loss of balance
- Lightheadedness: experiencing giddiness, or feeling unbalanced and woozy
- Presyncope: feeling faint
People may experience dizziness after a concussion in different ways. According to
Post-concussion dizziness typically goes away within days or weeks. According to research from 2021, it goes away within 3 weeks in
Post-concussion dizziness that lasts longer than 3 weeks is usually a type of vertigo known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
In a 2021 study of 102 people under age 21 with post-concussion syndrome and dizziness,
BPPV should resolve within 3 months — with or without treatment.
When to get medical help
Seek medical help if your symptoms get worse or do not improve. See a doctor if you experience:
- loss of balance
- trouble walking
- trouble staying awake
- mental confusion
Treatment for post-concussive dizziness depends on the cause. You can often manage mild dizziness at home. If it lasts longer than a few weeks, a doctor may prescribe medication or suggest lifestyle changes.
Dietary changes and diuretics
- following a low salt diet
- avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- taking diuretic medications such as hydrochlorothiazide or acetazolamide
Treatment for nonvestibular causes of dizziness
If your dizziness doesn’t go away after several weeks, a doctor might consider if there is a nonvestibular cause, such as pituitary or autonomic dysfunction, which can develop when ANS nerves are damaged.
If a doctor diagnoses an issue with your pituitary gland, which secretes hormones into your bloodstream, they may prescribe hormone replacement medications.
To diagnose autonomic dysfunction, a doctor will usually review your symptoms and plan treatment accordingly. While autonomic dysfunction may go away on its own, a doctor may recommend drinking plenty of fluids and, in some cases, undergoing physical therapy.
You can manage dizziness after a concussion by reducing your activity for a few days. Consider the following to help ease symptoms:
- Limit screen time and loud music.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
You might also ask a doctor about taking over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Here are answers to some common questions about concussions and dizziness:
Does dizziness after a concussion mean my recovery is going to take longer?
Dizziness is a possible symptom of concussions, even those you recover from within a few days or weeks. But
Can a concussion cause permanent dizziness?
Can a concussion cause dizziness when lying down?
Dizziness when lying down usually results from an ear condition like a viral ear infection. If you experience dizziness that only happens when you lie down, speak with a doctor so they can help determine the underlying cause.
Can you get dizziness from a concussion if you didn’t hit your head?
Yes. Dizziness is a possible symptom of concussion, no matter the cause. You can get a concussion from a hit to the head or a hit to the body that makes the brain move around rapidly inside the skull.
Dizziness is a common concussion symptom. It usually resolves within a few days or weeks.
If symptoms last more than 3 weeks, consult a healthcare professional. They may recommend treatments that address issues with your vestibular system, which controls your balance. Such treatments may include canalith repositioning, diet or lifestyle changes, or medications.