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I Got Dizzy Playing Sports: What's Going On?

I started feeling dizzy and faint during football practice today, and my heart was beating really fast. I thought it was because it's been hot or maybe I had too much caffeine. But my coach still made me sit out practice and told me he won't let me play until I get checked out by my doctor. Should I be worried?
- Pablo*

Most likely, there's no need to worry. But your coach is definitely giving you good advice. Even if you've already had your sports physical and checked out OK, you still need to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms while playing sports:

  • chest pain
  • trouble breathing
  • dizziness
  • feeling faint or passing out

Why? It's possible for teen athletes to have health problems that may not have shown up on any tests before. Your coach is being extra careful because these problems can occasionally put athletes in danger when playing sports.

Only a doctor can figure out what's going on with you. So follow your coach's instructions and make that appointment. You'll probably need to get a couple of tests, like an EKG and some blood tests to check for heart and other problems. Don't let that scare you, though. Once you learn exactly what's going on — and chances are it's nothing serious — you'll be able to get treatment if you need it.

Most teens who get checked out for problems are able to return to play as usual — or even better than usual if doctors are able to find and treat a problem that's been interfering with their sports performance.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.