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Dizziness Causes Why am I dizzy? Symptoms Causes Treatment Preventions & More

December 30, 2021

Do you feel like the room is spinning? Do you have the sensation of lightheadedness? Do you feel unsteady? These all are the sensations experienced in dizziness.

Dizziness is the condition that refers to many sensations like feeling of being unstable, disoriented in space, fear, giddiness, or off-balanced.

Dizziness Causes

A person can experience dizziness at any time during his life. It affects teenagers, old people as well as adults. But the risk of dizziness is more in older people as compared to adults. It is more common in females as compared to males.

Dizziness is one of the most commonly reported problems nowadays. It is not a life-threatening condition or a medical emergency.

But if the episodes of dizziness occur frequently, they can certainly affect your daily life as they will interfere with your routine and will not let you be normal in your dealings.

What are the symptoms of dizziness?

People reporting dizziness experience several sensations like:

  • Unsteadiness or the feeling of losing balance
  • A false sensation of the spinning of the surroundings
  • Wooziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • A feeling of floating or swimming
  • A feeling of blackout

The duration of the episode of dizziness is variable. It may last for a few seconds, a few minutes, or even hours. The person may also experience nausea or vomiting.

The symptoms may be so severe that they may cause the person to sit down and stop all the activities. They are worsened by standing, walking, and moving the head.

What are the types of dizziness?

Dizziness is experienced by almost everyone at some part of his age. It is subdivided into the following four subcategories.

Presyncope:

Presyncope derives its name from "syncope" which stands for the "loss of consciousness." In presyncope, the person feels lightheadedness and the feeling of getting unconscious.

It is an unpleasant and commonly experienced type of dizziness. The sensation of light-headedness may last for seconds, minutes, or even hours. The patient feels that his head is weightless.

The brain receives several sensory signals from the eyes, ears, and nose. If the sensory system is not functioning properly, it can cause presyncope or lightheadedness.

Presyncope is not a serious condition and gets well on its own.

Vertigo:

Vertigo is the sensation of the spinning of the surroundings but in reality, there is no spinning. A person feels that the room and the walls are constantly spinning around him.

Vertigo is a very disturbing experience and the patient may report nausea, vomiting, sweating, and being unable to stand and walk. It usually worsens with the movement of the head.

Disequilibrium:

It is a condition in which the patient senses the loss of balance and may fall off. Equilibrium is maintained by the impulses arising from the vestibulocochlear apparatus present in the inner ear and also by vision.

If there is any impairment in the sense of balance, disequilibrium arises.

Non-specific dizziness:

Non-specific dizziness is psychiatric in its origin and is linked to one's emotions and behavior. It can also arise as a result of hyperventilation.

What are the causes of dizziness?

Dizziness is caused by several factors as different parts of the body are concerned with equilibrium such as eyes, vestibular apparatus in the ears, skeletal muscles, and nervous system.

Dizziness arises in several health conditions. Any condition that can affect the equilibrium system of the body can lead to dizziness.

Dizziness is commonly reported in conditions that affect the blood supply to the brain like heart diseases and vascular problems. Abnormalities of vision and disorders of the inner ear also lead to dizziness.

Dizziness is a common symptom of the following conditions:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo:

This condition causes an intense feeling of dizziness when the head is moved or body posture is changed such as turning rapidly in the bed. It can also arise in case of head injury.

It is caused by an imbalance of calcium carbonate crystals that are a part of the vestibular apparatus in the inner ear.

Meniere's syndrome:

Meniere's syndrome is a condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the inner ears. It causes extremely unpleasant and disturbing episodes of dizziness that last for hours making the patient highly uncomfortable.

The patient also experiences tinnitus or the ringing sensation in the ears, muffled hearing, ear pain, nausea, vomiting, and hearing loss.

Meniere's attack can arise at any age but the most frequently they arise between 40 to 60 years of age. They arise suddenly and last for a long time.

Ear infections:

Bacterial or viral infections of the inner ear causing inflammation and irritation can cause dizziness. The signals from the inner ear reach the brain via the vestibulocochlear nerve.

In ear infections, the nerve also gets inflamed and irritated producing the symptoms of dizziness.

Migraine:

Migraine is a severe type of headache that usually affects one side of the head.

It is also a cause of dizziness. People who suffer from migraines are at a greater risk of dizziness. Such dizziness attacks may arise without having a severe headache and last for minutes or even hours.

 Migraine-associated dizziness is sensitive to loud noises and bad odors. It affects teenagers as well as adults.

Motion sickness:

Repetitive traveling in a car, airplane, ship, or boat disrupts the structure of the vestibular apparatus in the inner ear and causes dizziness. Nausea and vomiting are also reported in this case.

This condition is called motion sickness. The symptoms usually disappear when the person is out of the vehicle and on solid ground.

Drop in the blood pressure:

A sharp drop in systolic blood pressure can cause dizziness. It may arise due to dehydration, hemorrhage, or severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis.

A drop in blood pressure also occurs when a person stands up quickly after sitting for a long time. It is called postural hypotension and may cause dizziness for a while.

Poor blood circulation:

Poor blood circulation can cause dizziness due to reduced blood supply to the brain. Blood circulation is affected by several cardiovascular anomalies such as:

  • Cardiomegaly
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Ischemic heart diseases
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Arteriosclerosis, etc.

Iron deficiency:

Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is required by red blood cells for oxygen transport. If iron is deficient in the diet, it can lead to iron deficiency anemia.

In anemia, the ability of blood to transport oxygen is greatly decreased. Anemia causes dizziness, pale skin, fatigue, chest pain along shortness of breath.

If the deficiency of iron is severe, blood transfusion becomes mandatory.

Hypoglycemia:

Dizziness is also a symptom of hypoglycemia. A decrease in blood glucose level is called hypoglycemia. It occurs in diabetes patients which are on insulin therapy.

It may arise from skipping meals, hormonal imbalance, or alcohol abuse.

Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased hunger
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of balance
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Faintness
  • Seizures

If blood glucose levels don't improve, prolonged hypoglycemia can lead to death.

Autoimmune diseases of the inner ear:

The vestibular apparatus present in the inner ear is responsible for maintaining body balance and equilibrium. If an autoimmune condition affects the inner ear and damages the vestibular apparatus, balance is lost.

Other symptoms include dizziness, tinnitus or ringing sensation in the ears, difficulty in hearing, and hearing loss.

Its symptoms are similar to the symptoms of an ear infection so it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two.

Stress:

Stress is one of the prominent causes of dizziness. Stress increases heartbeat, raises blood pressure, increases respiratory rate, and causes dizziness.

Anxiety:

Anxiety attacks are associated with dizziness. Stressful situations such as giving a presentation on stage, having an exam trigger anxiety attacks.

In an anxiety attack, a person experiences nausea, irritability, sweating, headache, and tachycardia along with dizziness.

Brain tumors:

Brain tumors arise due to abnormal cell growth in the brain. They produce variable symptoms depending upon the part of the brain involved.

Most common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and seizures along with problems in sensory perceptions.

Ramsay hunt syndrome:

It is classified into:

  • Ramsay hunt syndrome type 1
  • Ramsay hunt syndrome type 2
  • Ramsay hunt syndrome type 3

Ramsay hunt syndrome type 2 is due to the herpes zoster virus affecting geniculate ganglion. It causes lower motor neuronal lesions of the facial nerve along with dizziness, ear pain, and difficulty in hearing or hearing loss.

Vestibular schwannoma:

Vestibular schwannoma is a benign tumor of Schwann cells surrounding the 8th cranial nerve known as the vestibulocochlear nerve.

It develops mostly on the vestibular branch of the nerve and affects hearing as well as balance and equilibrium of the body.

It can lead to dizziness and can also be life-threatening if it presses against the brainstem or other cranial nerves.

Pregnancy:

Dizziness is very common during pregnancy. It occurs due to hormonal changes during pregnancy that dilate the placental vessels and lower the blood pressure.

The blood sugar level is also decreased during pregnancy that can trigger dizziness. Females who are anemic or have varicose veins are at a greater risk of dizziness.

Dizziness is commonly experienced during the 1st trimester but it also occurs in the 2nd and 3rd trimester due to the compression of the blood vessels by enlargement of the uterus.

What are the risk factors for dizziness?

Age:

Old people are at greater risk of dizziness as compared to adults. It arises due to structural changes in the vestibular apparatus with age.

As a person grows older, the vestibular apparatus becomes weakened increasing the risk of dizziness.

History of dizziness:

A person having a history of dizziness is more prone to attacks of dizziness in the future.

What are the complications of dizziness?

Dizziness can cause injuries and fractures due to the tendency of falling of the person. If a person experiences dizziness while deriving, it can lead to a serious accident.

Dizziness is a symptom of various medical anomalies. If it is ignored, the underlying condition may worsen and can put a serious threat to the person's life.

When to see a doctor?

You should visit a doctor if you experience dizziness frequently along with the symptoms like:

  • Numbness of arms or legs
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • A sudden change of hearing
  • Fainting
  • Cardiac pain

Diagnosis:

The main aim of a physician is to diagnose the underlying cause of dizziness. For that purpose, he will 1st ask about your symptoms and any previous history. He will also check the way of your walking.

He may perform the following tests:

Eye movement test:

In this test, the doctor will observe the path of your eyes when you watch a moving object.

Posturography:

In this test, you stand on a platform barefooted and try to maintain your balance under various conditions.

In addition to these, he might refer you for an eyesight check-up or CT scan.

What are the treatments of dizziness?

The choice of treatment for dizziness depends upon the underlying cause.

Medication:

  • If dizziness is due to excessive build-up of fluid in the ears, diuretics can be helpful along with the reduction in salt intake. Clonazepam (Klonopin) can be used for vertigo and dizziness.
  • In case of dizziness due to migraines, painkillers are helpful. Lorazepam (Ativan) proves to be helpful in this condition.
  • If it is due to anxiety and depression, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs prove helpful.

Therapy:

Balance therapy:

In this therapy, the patient learns various exercises to reduce the sensitivity of the balance system and avoid dizziness.

Psychotherapy:

Psychotherapy is useful for those patients, who suffer from dizziness due to anxiety and depression.

Surgical procedure:

If the vestibular apparatus of one year gets damaged, it can be removed surgically. The other ear then controls the body equilibrium and dizziness does not occur.

What are the home remedies for dizziness?

Following home remedies prove helpful in case of dizziness and vertigo.

  • Lie down when you are feeling dizzy and going to lose your balance. Close your eyes and try to calm yourself.
  • Use ginger tea that relieves the symptoms of dizziness.

What are the preventions of dizziness?

To avoid dizziness:

  • Stay away from anxiety and stress
  • Remain hydrated
  • Consume almonds that are a rich source of vitamins
  • Exercise regularly and adopt a healthy lifestyle
Abdur Rashid
Medically Reviewed By Abdur Rashid
MSC Public Health, MCSP, MHCPC
BSC (Hon) Physiotherapy
Consultant Neuro-spinal & Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist

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