It’s often alarming to have a headache and dizziness at the same time. However, many things can cause the combination of these two symptoms, from dehydration to anxiety.

We’ll go over the signs that your headache and dizziness might be a sign of something more serious before diving into other, more common potential causes.

While rare, a headache with dizziness can sometimes indicate a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Brain aneurysm

A brain aneurysm is a balloon that forms in the blood vessels of your brain. These aneurysms often don’t cause symptoms until they rupture. When they do rupture, the first sign is usually a severe headache that comes on suddenly. You may also feel dizzy.

Other symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • neck pain or stiffness
  • seizures
  • sensitivity to light
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • a droopy eyelid
  • double vision

If you have a severe headache and feel dizzy or notice any other symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm, seek emergency medical treatment.

Stroke

Strokes occur when something interrupts the flow of blood to a part of your brain, cutting off the supply of oxygen and other nutrients it needs to function. Without a steady blood supply, brain cells quickly start to die.

Like brain aneurysms, strokes can cause a severe headache. They can also cause sudden dizziness.

Other symptoms of a stroke include:

  • numbness or weakness, often on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion
  • trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • sudden vision problems
  • sudden difficulty walking or maintaining balance

Strokes require quick treatment to avoid lasting complications, so seek emergency treatment as soon as you notice any symptoms of a stroke. Here’s how to recognize the signs of a stroke.

Migraines are intense headaches that happen on one or both sides of your head. People who often get migraines describe the pain as throbbing. This intense pain can be accompanied by dizziness.

Other symptoms include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • trouble seeing
  • seeing flashing lights or spots (aura)

There’s no cure for migraines, but certain things may help to reduce your symptoms or prevent them in the future. The effectiveness of different treatments tends to vary from person to person, so it’s a good idea to work with your doctor to find a treatment that works best for you. In the meantime, you can try these 10 natural ways to soothe a migraine.

There are two types of head injuries, known as external and internal injuries. An external head injury affects your scalp, not your brain. External head injuries may cause a headache, but usually not dizziness. When they do cause a headache and dizziness, it’s usually mild and goes away within a few hours.

Internal injuries, on the other hand, often cause both headaches and dizziness, sometimes for weeks after the initial injury.

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are usually caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking. They often happen due to car accidents, hard falls, or playing contact sports. Both headaches and dizziness are common symptoms of mild and severe TBIs.

Additional symptoms of a mild TBI, such as a concussion, include:

  • temporary loss of consciousness
  • confusion
  • memory problems
  • ringing in the ears
  • nausea and vomiting

Other symptoms of a more severe TBI, such as a skull fracture, include:

  • loss of consciousness for at least several minutes
  • seizures
  • fluid draining from the nose or ears
  • dilation of one or both pupils
  • severe confusion
  • unusual behavior, such as aggression or combativeness

If you think you or someone else might have a TBI, it’s important to contact a doctor right away. Someone with a mild TBI may just need to go to urgent care to make sure there’s no major damage. However, someone with a more severe TBI needs to go to the emergency room right away.

Post-concussion syndrome

Post-concussion syndrome is a condition that sometimes happens after a concussion. It causes a range of symptoms, which usually include a headache and dizziness, for weeks or even months after the original injury. The headaches associated with post-concussion syndrome often feel similar to migraines or tension headaches.

Other symptoms include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • memory or concentration problems
  • ringing in the ears
  • sensitivity to noise and light

Post-concussion syndrome isn’t a sign that you have a more serious underlying injury, but it can quickly get in the way of your day-to-day life. If you have lingering symptoms after a concussion, talk to your doctor. In addition to ruling out any other injuries, they can come up with a treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.

Bacterial and viral infections

If you have a headache accompanied by dizziness, you may just have a bug that’s going around. These are both common symptoms when your body’s exhausted and trying to fight off an infection. In addition, severe congestion and taking over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicines can also cause a headache and dizziness in some people.

Examples of bacterial and viral infections that can cause a headache and dizziness include:

If you don’t start to feel better after a few days, make an appointment with your doctor. You may have a bacterial infection, such as strep throat, which requires antibiotics.

Dehydration

Dehydration happens when you lose more fluids than you take in. Hot weather, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and taking certain medications can all cause dehydration. A headache, especially with dizziness, is one of the main signs of dehydration.

Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • dark-colored urine
  • decreased urination
  • extreme thirst
  • confusion
  • fatigue

Most cases of mild dehydration are treatable by simply drinking more water. However, more severe cases, including those in which you can’t keep fluids down, might require intravenous fluids.

Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar happens when your body’s blood glucose level drops below its usual level. Without enough glucose, your body can’t function properly. While low blood sugar is usually associated with diabetes, it can affect anyone who hasn’t eaten in a while.

In addition to a headache and dizziness, low blood sugar can cause:

  • sweating
  • shaking
  • nausea
  • hunger
  • tingling sensations around the mouth
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • pale or clammy skin

If you have diabetes, low blood sugar may be a sign that you need to adjust your insulin levels. If you don’t have diabetes, try drinking something with a bit of sugar, such as fruit juice, or eating a piece of bread.

Anxiety

People with anxiety experience fear or worry that’s often out of proportion with reality. The symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person and can include both psychological and physical symptoms. Headaches and dizziness are two of the more common physical symptoms of anxiety.

Other symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • trouble concentrating
  • extreme fatigue
  • restlessness or feeling wound up
  • muscle tension

There are several ways to manage anxiety, including cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, exercise, and meditation. Work with your doctor to come up with a combination of treatments that work for you. They can also give you a referral to a mental health professional.

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that causes inflammation of a delicate part of your ear called the labyrinth. The most common cause of labyrinthitis is a viral infection, such as a cold or flu.

In addition to a headache and dizziness, labyrinthitis can also cause:

  • vertigo
  • minor hearing loss
  • flu-like symptoms
  • ringing in the ears
  • blurred or double vision
  • ear pain

Labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own within a week or two.

Anemia

Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells to effectively transport oxygen throughout the body. Without enough oxygen, your body quickly becomes weak and fatigued. For many people, this results in a headache and in some cases, dizziness.

Other symptoms of anemia include:

  • an irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • cold hands and feet

Treating anemia depends on its underlying cause, but most cases respond well to increasing your intake of iron, vitamin B-12, and folate.

Poor vision

Sometimes, a headache and dizziness may just be a sign that you need glasses or a new prescription for your existing lenses. Headaches are a common sign that your eyes are working extra hard. In addition, dizziness sometimes indicates that your eyes are having trouble adjusting from seeing things far away to those that are closer.

If your headache and dizziness seem worse after you’ve been reading or using the computer, make an appointment with an eye doctor.

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune conditions result from your body mistakenly attacking healthy tissue as if it were an infectious invader. There are more than 80 autoimmune conditions, each with their own set of symptoms. However, many of them share a few common symptoms, including frequent headaches and dizziness.

Other general symptoms of an autoimmune condition include:

  • fatigue
  • joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
  • ongoing fever
  • high blood sugar

There are a variety of treatments available for autoimmune conditions, but it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis first. If you think you might have an autoimmune condition, make an appointment with your doctor. They can start by doing a complete blood count test before testing for other things, such as specific antibodies.

Medication side effects

Headaches and dizziness are both common side effects of many medications, especially when you first start taking them.

Medications that often cause dizziness and headaches include:

Many times, side effects may only occur in the first few weeks. If they continue, ask your doctor about adjusting your dose or putting you on a new medication. Never stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.

Many things can cause a headache and dizziness at the same time.

If you or someone else is showing signs of a stroke, ruptured brain aneurysm, or severe head injury, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you’re still not sure what’s causing yours, make an appointment with your doctor to help rule out other causes.