It can be hard to describe dizziness in a way that does justice to the sickening feeling of being woozy, unsteady, light-headed or faint. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is spinning out of control.
Dizziness is surprisingly common. It is not a condition in its own right but usually a symptom of something else. Dizziness is your brain’s way of telling you something is wrong. Those unpleasant sensations certainly get your attention!
Here are 8 possible causes of dizziness.
1. Inner Ear Problems (Vertigo)
Problems with your inner ear can cause vertigo, the false sense that your surroundings are spinning.
Vertigo happens when your brain is trying to sort out contradictory messages. Your inner ear is telling your brain that your surroundings are spinning but your eyes and other nerves say things are still.
There are several causes of vertigo including:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): This causes an intense but brief sense of spinning triggered by moving your head suddenly. It’s the most common type of vertigo.
- Meniere’s Disease: A build-up of fluid in your inner ear causes sudden bouts of vertigo that may last several hours. It can be accompanied by tinnitus and hearing loss.
- Infection: Vestibular neuritis, an infection of a certain nerve can cause extreme and ongoing vertigo. A nerve inflammation called labyrinthitis may also cause dizziness and sudden hearing loss.
A vestibular migraine can cause dizziness. You may or may not have a headache but you may experience problems with your hearing, vision or balance. It may last just a few minutes or it might go on for hours. Physiotherapy, medication and lifestyle changes may help reduce the frequency or severity of migraines.
There’s a two-way relationship between dizziness and stress. Feeling dizzy can certainly make you feel stressed. And feeling stressed can also make you feel dizzy.
When you’re feeling stressed, anxious, afraid, frustrated, angry or embarrassed, there’s often a physical response. You might notice that your heart is beating faster, you’re sweating, you feel nauseous, or you’re trembling and shaking. Dizziness is another physical symptom that can be related to your mental and emotional state.
4. Circulation Problems
Your heart’s job is to pump blood around your body, including your brain. If your brain isn’t getting enough blood, you’ll feel faint or dizzy.
Have you ever stood up quickly and suddenly felt woozy? That happens when your blood pressure drops quickly.
Conditions that stop your blood circulating properly can cause dizziness. That includes an irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia), a heart attack, cardiomyopathy or a minor stroke (transient ischemic attack), which temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain. Circulation problems are serious and should be investigated by a doctor.
Dizziness is a common side-effect of many medications including:
- Drugs that lower your blood pressure (you get dizzy if the drug lowers your blood pressure too much)
- Drugs to control seizures.
If you’re struggling with dizziness and think it relates to your medication, then talk to the doctor who prescribed it. They may be able to put you on a different medication that can treat your condition without causing dizziness.
6. Underlying Medical Condition
Dizziness can be a knock-on effect of another medical condition.
That can include:
- Diabetes: Dizziness is a common symptom of low blood sugar if you’ve had too much exercise, or haven’t balanced your food and your insulin properly. The dizziness usually passes once you’ve eaten a few jelly beans to get your blood glucose level back to normal.
- Anaemia: Dizziness is one symptom of low iron levels.
- Neurological disorders: Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis can lead to a progressive loss of balance.
- Anxiety: You might feel lightheaded or dizzy during a panic attack.
- Heart conditions: As noted above, a drop in blood pressure or a circulation problem can cause dizziness.
Aussie summers are baking hot and heat stress is common. If you’re active in hot weather or if you don’t drink enough water, you may feel dizzy as a result of overheating or dehydration.
When you’re hot, your body sends more blood to your skin in an attempt to cool you down. That means there’s less blood flowing to your brain, which can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure. That can make you faint or feel dizzy.
As you get older, you’re more likely to experience dizziness, which affects 30% of people over 60 years old and 50% of people over 85.
Age-related changes in your inner ear make you more prone to vertigo. You’re also more likely to have one or more underlying medical conditions that can cause dizziness. And you’re more likely to be taking medications that can cause dizziness as a side effect.
Dizziness is a strong predictor of falls in older people. Those falls can cause injury, fear of falling again, loss of independence and even death in some cases. That’s why it’s so important to investigate dizziness in older people.
How Neurospace Might Help You
Dizziness can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Thankfully, there are treatments available for dizziness.
Our staff at Neurospace have many years of experience in identifying and treating the causes of dizziness. We’ll discuss your lifestyle, your stress levels, your medical history and your symptoms before deciding on a diagnosis and course of treatment to improve your symptoms.
You can make an appointment online or call us on 02 6162 0450.