What Makes Us Dizzy

| January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post
What Makes Us Dizzy

What Makes Us Dizzy

I have gotten dizzy from time to time.  Mostly when I haven’t eaten properly.  But it still makes me wonder if there is something else going on.  

Who hasn’t gotten up quickly from sitting down and felt a little bit dizzy? Or had a stomach virus and things spun a bit? But while dizziness can be a side effect of minor health issues, it can also be a sign of a serious health problem.

“Dizziness is absolutely not normal,” says Dr. Donnica Moore, president of Sapphire Women’s Health Group in Chester, N.J. “It tells you that something is wrong. It could be something simple and very easy to fix or it could be a sign of something else going on in your body.”

Dizziness is a more common complaint among older adults — probably because it’s a side effect of nearly every prescription drug (and many over-the-counter medications), and because age-related changes in your body can cause dizziness, Moore says.

In many cases, a little self-care can cure dizziness. But you must take it seriously. Even if your dizziness is not signaling a serious health condition, it can be the cause of dire health consequences, according to Dr. Christopher Asandra, an anti-aging specialist and chief medical officer at NuMale, a national men’s health and wellness center with locations in eight cities.

“I’ve been an emergency room doctor and I have seen many patients whose dizziness leads them to fall. They break a hip, they have head trauma or they break something else,” Asandra says.

Moore agrees. The first thing you should do if you feel dizzy is to sit or lie down. The last thing you should do is drive yourself to the doctor. “Dizziness can contribute to car accidents,” she says. “This is what friends are for. This is what Uber is for!”

What Causes Dizziness?

Here are eight things and what to do about them:

1. Dehydration or Overheating

If you’ve been in the heat, been on a long plane ride, done a lot of exercise, spent a cold winter’s day in an overheated house or just forgotten to eat or drink all day because you’ve been so busy, you can feel dizzy.

The fix: If you feel like the room is spinning or that your head is spinning, you should have some water or, even better, orange juice (because it will give you a little sugar at the same time), and see if that makes you feel any better. If you are dehydrated or overheated, you may also be experiencing a drop in blood sugar, and the juice (which certainly won’t harm you) contains sugar and will lift your levels if your blood sugar is low.

Moore says you should also lie down for a few minutes. But, she adds, be sure to tell someone you feel dizzy. If you live alone, call a friend and ask him or her to check back on you in 15 minutes or so. After you’ve had a drink and a little rest, see if the feeling passes. It should if dehydration or overheating is to blame. If not, call your doctor.

2. BPPV

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV, commonly known as vertigo) is a scary name for what is a common condition — the one where you get up out of bed and the room suddenly starts spinning. “The older you get, the more likely you are to have vertigo,” Moore says. That’s because this type of dizziness is caused by age-related changes in your inner ear and is the culprit of half of all dizziness cases in people over 50, according to The Vestibular Disorders Association.

It’s also referred to as positional dizziness and may arise if you’ve slept with your head in a particular position. If you experience a persistent problem with this type of dizziness, call your doctor.

The fix: Your doctor may try some head-positioning techniques, designed to realign little calcium carbonate crystals in your ears that are at the root of BPPV. If head positioning doesn’t work, there are usually a few other options. Anti-nausea medication can help, Asandra says. You can also try to follow up with some positioning exercises the doctor can show you that you do on your own.

3. Stroke or Mini-stroke

Dizziness may not be the first symptom of a stroke, but if you experience it as a sudden change, in combination with a weakness on one side of your body, loss of movement, a severe headache or loss of speech, call 911, Asandra says. You need to be seen immediately.

The fix: You will be examined for stroke, and depending on the diagnosis, treated with anticoagulants (blood thinners and clot busters) and antihypertensives (blood pressure lowering medication). Depending on the type of stroke, you may require more medical intervention.

4. Medications

“If you read the package insert of every prescription medication, dizziness is listed as a possible side effect,” Moore says. So if you’ve recently started a medication — prescription or over-the-counter — it could be the reason you’re feeling dizzy. It may mean that you have to switch medications or stop the one that you are taking.

What Makes Us Dizzy

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