Dizziness is a broad term that is used to describe a variety of symptoms that can cause problems with equilibrium, which can lead to lightheadedness, vertigo, nausea, and other sensations. In some cases, feeling dizzy is the body’s way of alerting us to a potentially life-threatening health problem. However, identifying the root cause of dizziness can be difficult without being seen by a physician. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the symptoms commonly associated with feeling dizzy as well as the health conditions that can trigger it and, most importantly, when you should seek medical treatment.
HOW DIZZINESS AFFECTS THE BODY
To fully understand the impact that being dizzy has on the body, we need to recognize that there is a link between the symptoms that one experiences and illnesses in the body. The same applies to bodily organs in that poor or compromised function can result in dizziness. To further put this into context, let’s take a look at some specific dizziness symptoms and how they affect the body:
- Presyncope – Commonly referred to as lightheadedness, presyncope typically occurs when someone stands up too quickly after being seated for an extended time. Along with feeling lightheaded, it is not uncommon for some people to become pale, clammy, or even pass out. In most cases, presyncope is a byproduct of dehydration; however, it has also been linked to heart disease.
- Vertigo – While most of us have heard the term vertigo, not everyone is familiar with what it means. Basically, vertigo is akin to spinning around and suddenly stopping. It is commonly associated with problems affecting the inner ear. Vertigo can be the result of kidney failure, exposure to toxins, or multiple sclerosis. The symptoms typically include double vision, tingling sensations, difficulty swallowing, and numbness.
- Disequilibrium – Often referred to as feeling off balance, disequilibrium is a condition that results in the inability to maintain focus and is generally caused by ear infections. However, it can also be a byproduct of a neurological disorder like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, for example.
- Unspecified dizziness – In many cases, unspecified dizziness is the result of extreme fatigue or a side effect of certain medications.
It should also be noted that the brain, eyes, and inner ear work synergistically to help keep you balanced. So if one is not functioning correctly, the others will be impacted. That said, feeling dizzy will be your first indication that something is wrong.
Now that we have a general understanding of dizziness, let’s take a look at specific health problems that can contribute to the condition.
Autoimmune disorders like Guillain-Barre, for example, can lead to feeling dizzy as the disorder commonly attacks the body’s peripheral nervous system, the parts of the nervous system on the outside of the central nervous system. In addition to feeling dizzy, Guillain-Barre often results in feeling unusually weak along with tingling sensations that start in the feet and travel throughout the upper body. It should be noted that Gullian-Barre disease can often lead to paralysis. If you’re experiencing dizzy-like symptoms and have this disease or any other autoimmune disease, you’re encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Heart disease is commonly associated with dizzy-like symptoms. When the heart is no longer capable of supplying enough oxygen-rich blood to the brain and the rest of the body, presyncope is likely to occur. The same applies to cardiac arrhythmias as well.
Vitamin deficiency can result in Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is a condition that occurs when the body is deficient in vitamin B1. Along with dizzy spells, the condition can cause memory problems as well as difficulty walking. Fortunately, these problems can be quickly overcome by taking vitamin B1 supplements.
Brainstem infections like Cryptococcus and labyrinthitis can lead to vertigo. The same applies to communicable bacteria like listeria, for example. Any of these conditions can cause inflammation of the inner ear, which can lead to vertigo, lightheadedness, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Vertebrobasilar insufficiency is a condition that causes decreased blood flow to the brainstem, which often results in central vertigo and causes extreme feelings of lightheadedness. Vertebrobasilar insufficiency can also lead to a stroke or permanent brain damage if blood flow is decreased for even a short period of time.
Endocrine tumors like insulinoma and others that secrete hormone can cause one to feel dizzy. If too much hormone is secreted, most people will experience weakness and disorientation, which is in addition to feeling dizzy.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT?
If you’re struggling with unspecified dizzy-like symptoms, you may not need to seek medical treatment. More likely than not, the dizzy sensation that you’re experiencing may be related to fatigue and will resolve itself once you have had a chance to rest. That aside, if you’re feeling any of the following symptom, you’re encouraged to seek medical attention immediately:
- Extreme headaches
- Trouble breathing
- Facial numbness
- High fever
- Chest pain
- Speech or vision problems
It is especially important that you seek medical attention if your symptoms are in conjunction with any of the health problem detailed in this article as the combination can be life-threatening.
HOW TO AVOID DIZZINESS
In most cases, it is possible to resolve most dizzy-like symptoms at home; however, there are instances where seeking medical treating is unavoidable. That said, here are 5 things that you can do to help avoid dizziness:
1. STAYING HYDRATED
Dehydration can play a significant role when it comes to the symptoms associated with feeling dizzy. When the body becomes severely dehydrated, blood pressure levels can drop dangerously low, which can impede the flow of oxygen to the brain. This lack of oxygen can cause you to feel dizzy, nauseous, and lightheaded. The best way to overcome dehydration is to consume a minimum of 8 8oz glasses of water each day. Some of the common signs of dehydration include dark-colored urine, fatigue, and extreme thirstiness.
Although medication is necessary to resolve certain health conditions, they can also lead to new ones, namely nausea, vertigo, and lightheadedness. Some of these medications include
- Anti-seizure medication
- Blood pressure medication
If any of these medications are causing you to feel dizzy, it may be a good idea to inform your physician. In doing so, he or she may be able to prescribe an alternate medication or change the dose on your current prescription to help combat your symptoms.
3. MONITOR YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
If you have diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar is one of the best things that you can do to avoid dizziness. In addition to feeling dizzy, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can also result in feelings of confusion, profuse sweating, shakiness, and hunger. The best way to avoid dizziness caused by low blood sugar is to eat or drink something sweet. In most cases, a piece of candy or fruit juice should suffice.
Nerves in the ears that become inflamed can often lead to vertigo, nausea, and ear pain. That said, inflammation can impact the inner and middle, and the symptom can last for multiple weeks. Because ear inflammation usually stems from a virus, antibiotics are ineffective. This means that you have no choice but to allow the virus to run its course before you can get some relief from your symptoms.
5. MENIERE’S DISEASE
If you’re not familiar with Meniere’s disease, it is a condition that results in not only vertigo but also an array of other symptoms including hearing loss, anxiety, and nausea. Also, the symptom can last for hours, often leaving individuals feeling exhausted once the symptoms finally subside.
In summation, there are a variety of illnesses and other health conditions that can result in vertigo, feeling lightheaded, and nauseous. While these experiences are unpleasant, they are designed to signify underlying problems that should be addressed as quickly as possible. That said, there are small things that you can do to get immediate relief from dizzying symptoms like staying hydrated, for example. However, in most cases, you will need to seek medical attention. All in all, if you’re experiencing prolonged dizzy spells, especially if they’re coupled with other health problems, it would be in your best interest to seek medical care as soon as possible to avoid further health complications.