dizziness

Dizziness: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Dizziness is the term used to refer your sensation like feeling woozy, faint, unsteady or weak. The condition can make you feel as if the surroundings or you are spinning. The false sense of moving is known as vertigo. Feeling faint is one of the common reasons why most adults visit their doctors. Frequent spells of wooziness can affect your regular life. So, you need to find out what causes it and take appropriate measures to address the issue. In the majority of cases, no issue or a simple problem can lead to the condition. But, getting it checked by a medical professional is important for peace of mind. Getting appropriate treatment can help you manage the problem with ease.

Dizziness

Symptoms Of Dizziness

How can explain the symptoms associated with dizziness? When you feel dizzy, you can experience any number of sensations like:

  • Feel like spinning or a false sense of motion (Vertigo)
  • Lightheadedness or feel like fainting
  • Loss of balance or unsteadiness
  • A feeling of heavy headedness or wooziness

These sensations are triggered or can get worse with standing up, walking, or moving your head. In some cases, the dizzy feeling is accompanied by nausea. You feel like sitting down or lie on a bed for the sensation to pass. It can last for seconds or minutes. Some people tend to experience it throughout the day. You can also observe it recurring.

Consulting A Doctor For Dizziness

In most cases, people never consult a doctor for lightheadedness. They tend to ignore the problem. But, you need to consult a doctor when you suffer from sudden, severe, recurrent, unexplained or prolonged vertigo or dizziness. You need emergency medical assistance when you suffer from dizzy spells along with other signs like:

  • Chest pain
  • Sudden and intense headache
  • Trouble breathing properly
  • Double vision
  • Numbness or paralysis of arms/legs
  • Irregular/rapid heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking or stumbling
  • Slurred speech
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Sudden change in hearing
  • Seizures
  • Facial weakness or numbness

Causes Of Dizziness

Pregnant women can experience dizzy spells. It is because of the hormonal changes occurring in the body. It can cause the blood vessels to relax and widen. So, women who suffer from fainting need to check if they are pregnant or not. Dizziness can also occur due to the inner ear and balance problems. People suffering from vertigo can also suffer from fainting spells. Other underlying health conditions can also lead to the condition. You can detect the exact cause of the fainting spells by observing the triggers causing it and the duration of the spells. The accompanying signs can also help you guess the actual problem. Let’s look into the different causes of fainting in detail:

Inner Ear And Balance

Your inner ear problems can cause vertigo, which can lead to dizzy spells. Wondering how? The sense of balance depends on input from the different parts of the sensory system in the human body. The combined input comes from the following:

Eyes

It helps you determine the area where your body is and its movement.

Sensory Nerves

It aids in sending messages to your brain regarding the body’s movements as well as its positions.

Inner ear

It has the sensors, which help identify the gravity and the motions (back and forth).

Vertigo is an imaginary sense of your surroundings are moving or spinning. When you suffer from inner ear disorders, your brain receives false signals from the inner ear. These signals are not consistent with the signals received by sensory nerves and eyes. While your brain tries to sort out the confusion, it results in vertigo. The conditions causing the problem are:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)

It is a brief but intense sense of spinning or moving. The false sense of episodes is triggered when you experience rapid changes in head movement. So, it occurs when you sit up quickly, turn over in bed, or suffer a blow to the head. BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo.

Infection

When you suffer infection to your vestibular nerve, it can result in constant and intense vertigo. The viral infection is known as vestibular neuritis. The condition can escalate and result in labyrinthitis, which results in sudden hearing loss.

Meniere’s disease

Meniere's disease

At times the fluid starts building up inside your inner ear causing the disease. You can experience vertigo as a result of the condition. You will also suffer from the following signs due to the condition:

  • Ringing in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • The feeling of plugged ear

Migraine

Recurrent headaches due to migraines can cause people to suffer from episodes of vertigo. Such individuals can also experience other types of dizzy spells even with no headache. The condition lasts from a few minutes to several hours. You can also suffer from noise and light sensitivity due to the issue.

Circulation Problems

Circulation problems can cause dizzy spells. It happens when your heart fails to pump enough blood to your brain. So, you feel off-balance or faint. The problems causing the issue are:

Drop-In Blood Pressure

When you suffer a drop in the systolic (the higher number in the blood pressure reading) blood pressure, it can cause dizzy spells. You can feel faint and lightheaded. It usually occurs when you sit or stand up too quickly. The condition is also referred to as orthostatic hypotension.

Poor Blood Circulation

Certain heart conditions can cause dizzy spells. So people suffering from the following heart ailments can experience fainting:

  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart attack
  • Heart arrhythmia

These conditions can also cause decreased blood volume. So, it results in an inadequate flow of blood to the inner ear or brain.

 Other Causes of Dizziness

Apart from the above-mentioned causes, you can feel dizzy due to other conditions. The other issues triggering the problem are:

Neurological Conditions

People suffering from certain neurological disorders can experience progressive loss of balance. So, people with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease can face the risk of dizzy spells.

Medications

The medication you take to treat underlying health ailments can cause fainting. It is the side effect associated with the following medications:

  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure drugs

In some cases, people taking medication to lower their blood pressure can suffer from fainting spells as they can lower the blood pressure below the necessary value.

Anxiety Disorders

Certain anxiety disorders can cause a woozy feeling or lightheadedness. So, people who suffer from panic attacks or any irrational fear or phobias (like leaving home or agoraphobia) can feel dizzy spells.

Anemia

Low levels of iron in your blood can trigger several symptoms, including feeling woozy. So, people with anemia can suffer from fainting, fatigue, pale skin, and weakness.

Hypoglycemia

It is the condition common among diabetic people who use insulin to bring down their blood sugar levels. Suddenly the blood sugar levels can down well below normal levels. It can result in lightheadedness. Anxiety and sweating are the other signs linked to the condition.

Overheating And Dehydration

If you are active while the weather is hot, you need to drink more fluids to keep the balance in your body. Failure to drink fluids can make you dizzy. It is because of hyperthermia (overheating of the body) or dehydration. The condition is common among people who take certain heart medications.

Risk Factors Linked To Dizziness

Does everyone face the risk of fainting spells? It is possible to experience fainting spells in your life, some factors increase the risk of getting dizzy. The factors include:

Age

Your age is one of the main factors associated with the problem. Older people are more prone to fainting spells due to underlying medical conditions. They can also experience a sense of imbalance. Some of the medications they take for various health ailments can cause dizziness.

Past Episodes

If you have suffered from an episode of feeling dizzy in the past, then you are likely to experience the same in the future.

Complication Associated With Dizziness

Fainting spells can increase your risk of falling and injuring your body. it also puts you at risk of accidents when you are performing activities like operating machinery or driving. In some cases, fainting can indicate the presence of an underlying health problem. Without proper treatment, the condition can worsen and cause life-threatening complications.

Diagnosing Dizziness

If you suffer frequent dizziness, then you need to see a doctor. The medical professional can perform tests to diagnose the problem. So, your doctor suggests the following tests to detect the problem:

Physical Assessment

You need to inform your doctor regarding the signs you suffer along with your medical history. You need to tell your doctor about the medication you take. After gathering all the information, your doctor performs a physical assessment. During the exam, your doctor checks how you walk and maintain the balance. The test can shed light on the working of the major nerves of your central nervous system.

Imaging Tests

If your doctor suspects stroke or other issues like suffering from a blow to the head, then you need to undergo imaging tests. An MRI or CT scan of the brain can reveal any evidence of such issues. Based on the tests, your doctor can take the next step.

Hearing And Balance Tests

In some cases, hearing problems or issues with your balance can cause dizziness. Therefore, your doctor orders for the following tests:

Eye Movement Testing

As the name suggests, your doctor watches the path of your eyes while tracking the movement of an object. In some cases, you need to undergo an eye motion test. During the test, the doctor places air or water in the ear canal.

 Head Movement Testing

Some people suffer from fainting spells due to vertigo triggered due to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. So, the doctor uses the Dix-Hallpike maneuver. It is a simple head movement used to verify the possibility of the condition.

Posturography

It is the test that tells your doctor about the major part of the balance you rely on. Using the information, your doctor can detect the parts triggering problems in your body. During the test, you need to stand on a platform barefoot. You need to keep your balance during different conditions.

Rotary Chair Testing

It is the test during which you need to sit on a chair controlled by a computer. It moves in a full circle at slow speed. The chair is moved back and forth at faster speeds. It forms a very small arc.

 Blood Tests

Your doctor can order blood tests. A sample of blood is tested in the lab to check for infection. It also checks your heart as well as blood vessel health.

Treatment For Dizziness

In most cases, the condition can get better without any treatment. If pregnancy is triggering the fainting spells, your body adapts to the changes within a couple of weeks. Based on the underlying health condition, your doctor can suggest an apt treatment. The treatment can include the use of medications or balance exercises. In some cases, your doctor cannot identify a specific cause for the problem. So, your doctor prescribes drugs as well as other treatment options to manage the symptoms.

Medications

Your doctor first suggests taking medications to treat the underlying condition to manage the problem. The different options available are:

Water pills

It is suggested for people who suffer from Meniere’s disease. Water pills are a diuretic, which helps your kidney get rid of extra water and salt content from your body. Along with a low-salt diet, the water pills can reduce the dizzy spells.

Medications To Relieve Dizziness And Nausea

To provide immediate relief from fainting spells, vertigo, and nausea, your doctor can prescribe anti-cholergenics and antihistamines. Before taking them, talk to your doctor as these medications can cause drowsiness.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications like Diazepam and alprazolam come under the class of drugs called benzodiazepines can mage anxiety symptoms. Buy, it can cause addiction as well as drowsiness.

Manage Migraine

Migraine attacks can lead to dizzy spells. So, your doctor can suggest preventive medication to deal reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.

Therapy

To overcome dizzy spells due to balance problems or vertigo, you need to undergo therapy offered by professionals. The different therapies available to manage the problem are:

Head Position Maneuvers

If your supper from BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), then a physical therapist or audiologist can use canalith repositioning to treat the condition. Instead of simply waiting for the lightheadedness to pass, the procedure uses head maneuvers to get instant relief. The procedure moves the particles in your otoconia (inner ear) to other parts. These particles are responsible for the dizzy spells. You need to undergo at least one or two treatments to see the effect. But, inform your doctor about any back or neck condition before the procedure. It is also necessary to inform the doctor about your blood vessel problems, a detached retina.

 Balance Therapy

If you suffer from balance problems, then you need to learn specific exercises to reduce the sensitivity to motion. The technique called vestibular rehabilitation is a physical therapy effective for people suffering from dizzy spells due to vestibular neuritis (inner ear conditions).

 Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy

It is the therapy suggested for people who suffer from fainting spells due to anxiety disorders. The treatment addresses the anxiety issues and offers tips to manage it.

Other Procedures

Apart from therapies, your doctor can also suggest other treatment options like:

Taking Injections

Your doctor injects the inner ear with injection. The injection containing antibiotic gentamicin can disable the ear’s balance function. It leads to the unaffected ear taking over that particular function.

Surgical Removal

Surgical Removal
Labyrinthectomy

Labyrinthectomy is a rare surgical procedure opted to get relief from frequent dizzy spells. The procedure involves removing the inner ear sense organ. So, it causes the disabling of the vestibular labyrinth in your affected ear. It leads to your unaffected ear, taking of the function. It is opted by the doctor when you suffer from serious hearing loss and you fail to get relief from other treatment options.

Lifestyle And Home Remedies For Dizziness

Along with the medical treatment suggested by the doctor, you can also make some changes to your lifestyle. It is also effective more uncomplicated cases of swooning that require no medical assistance. If pregnancy is the cause of your dizzy spells, then you need to take steps to prevent any physical harm to you or your unborn baby. The tips provided can assist you in preventing dizziness:

Maintain Caution

You need to become aware of the possibility of losing balance due to fainting spells. It can lead to falling and suffering from serious injury. You need to follow some steps to prevent any physical harm.

  • You need to walk with support for stability. In some cases, moving suddenly or standing up after sitting for a long time can cause dizzy spells. Try to stand up or move slowly to prevent such episodes.
  • When you feel dizzy, sit or lie down. Lie still in a darkened room with your eyes closed. It is especially true when you experience vertigo.
  • Avoid driving a car or perform hard tasks like operating machinery if you experience the problem without warning.

Fall-Proof Your Space

Avoid tripping hazards by making your fall-proof. So, remove exposed electrical cords and area rugs to avoid falling down. Use good lighting and use nonslip mate on the shower floors and bath.

Check Your Diet

You need to eat a healthy diet consisting of essential vitamins and minerals. Nutritional deficiency can cause fainting spells. You need to avoid certain items from your life that causes the condition to worsen. So, cut excess salt, alcohol, tobacco or caffeine from your life. Excessive use of such substances can worsen your signs and symptoms.

Avoid Dehydration

You need to avoid dehydration by drinking fluids throughout the day. You can experience fainting spells due to overheating. In such cases, you need to replenish the fluid levels in your body by drinking water or sports drink. Rest in a cool place to help your body come back to normal temperature.

Manage Stress

You can suffer from a simple fainting spell when you experience physical or emotional stress. Anxiety and intense fear can also cause the problem. Therefore, try to manage stress by implementing some relaxation techniques.

Check Medication You Use

Some medications can cause fainting spells as a possible side effect. So, you need to talk to your doctor about changing the dose or discontinuing it.

Manage With OTC Medications

If dizzy spells occur along with nausea or vomiting, then you need to try taking over-the-counter medications like a nonprescription antihistamine to manage the condition. But, the medication can cause drowsiness. While non-drowsy antihistamines are available, they are not as effective.

Conclusion

In most of the cases, the dizzy feeling clears up on its own without taking any medications. But, if you suffer from the problem frequently, it indicates a serious underlying health problem. So, you need to get a doctor’s assistance. Since the problem can lead to loss of balance or fainting, you face a high risk of injuries or accidents. It is true for people who operate heavy machinery or drive. So, getting the necessary help from a doctor can avoid the problem. Try to avoid complications by stopping any activity you perform while suffering from the dizziness episode. Take some time to steady yourself until the episode passes. By taking precautions, you can avoid any unfavorable episodes due to the dizzy sensation.

View Article Sources
  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/symptoms-causes/syc-20371787
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/dizziness
  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/dizziness_dizzy/article.htm

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