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Here's Why You Might Be Feeling Dizzy.

Updated on September 11, 2018
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Dr Vivek Baliga is an internal medicine physician in Bangalore. He is the director of Baliga Diagnostics, a cardiology center in Bangalore.

Introduction

Maintaining balance while standing or sitting is essential for us to perform our regular activities. The balance mechanism in the human body is a complex phenomenon that involves the brain, the ear, and the muscles.

Time and again, doctors encounter patients who complain of dizziness. This has a significant impact on their quality of life and hinders them from performing their day to day activities. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that most of the patients that seen in clinics are suffering from some form of dizziness or another.

Let’s take a look at why exactly you might be feeling dizzy.

But before we proceed, there's one thing that I would like to clarify. Dizziness is not the same as vertigo. In dizziness, the individual themselves feel unsteady and are unable to maintain balance. In vertigo, the room around the individual begins to spin. This is important as the causes of dizziness are different (sometimes) to vertigo.

However, for the purpose of this article, I have described them synonymously.

Do you feel like your world is spinning out of control?
Do you feel like your world is spinning out of control?

You Have Low Blood Sugar

If you suffer from diabetes and are taking medications, any dizziness must be put in context with whether or not you have low blood sugar. Having low blood sugar can also present with a number of other symptoms such as shakiness of the hands, excessive hunger, sweating, and disorientation.

However, if you are feeling dizzy, make sure you check your blood sugar levels and correct them if they are low. If the dizziness is due to low blood sugars, this will get corrected in a matter of minutes.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is one of the most common causes of dizziness. This is particularly seen in those people taking medicines to control that high blood pressure. Sometimes, all medication can lead to low blood pressure and this can, in turn, lead to dizziness.

One way of figuring out whether it is the blood pressure that is leading to dizziness is to check the BP in the lying position and the standing position. If there is a drop in the systolic blood pressure of more than 20 mmHg, then one must consider low blood pressure to be the cause of dizziness.

In such a situation, just correcting the blood pressure medicines can help tremendously.

If you ever find yourself dizzy and record a low blood pressure on your home blood pressure monitoring machine, then lie down immediately and elevate your lower limbs. This will allow the blood from the legs to rush back to the heart and subsequently to the brain, increasing the blood pressure gradually and improving the blood supply to the brain. After a few minutes, you will notice an improvement in your dizziness.

Labyrinthitis

This is a clinical condition where a nerve that is present within the inner ear does not function normally. The inner ear is responsible for maintaining our balance. If there is any problem with any of the structures in this area, an individual can feel dizzy.

However, dizziness is less common in those people with labyrinthitis. Instead, they generally suffer from vertigo and require specific treatments for this.

Meniere’s Disease

This is a clinical condition that is characterized by deafness, a ringing sensation in the ear and vertigo. The condition requires investigation such as an MRI scan of the brain to determine if there are any brain tumors causing the problem. Generally, this condition only affects one ear and can last for a long time.

While medical therapy can help to an extent, a lot of times simple lifestyle changes are needed to cope with the problem.

Irregular Heart Rhythms

Some people experience irregular heart rhythms from time to time which has been clearly described as a cause of dizziness.

This is because the irregular heart rhythms do not allow adequate pumping of blood from the heart of the brain.

Consequently, the individual starts to feel dizzy for the period of time that the heart is beating irregularly.

If there is any suspicion of an irregular heart rhythm, cardiac investigation such as an ECG, echocardiogram and a Holter recording may be performed.

Finding out the cause of the irregular heart rhythm and treating it appropriately can often get rid of giddiness completely. In some elderly individuals, dizziness may be related to excessive slowing down of the heart. This can be treated quickly by a pacemaker.

Stroke

People who have suffered from a stroke and sometimes experience chronic dizziness. This is because a part of the brain that is responsible for maintaining balance had its blood supply cut off leading to permanent damage. The only way to manage dizziness in someone with a stroke is through physiotherapy. Some medicines are available but may not be very effective.

Low Haemoglobin

Anaemia is a common cause of dizziness. If you have noticed yourself passing jet black coloured stools or are becoming more breathless than normal, make sure you check your haemoglobin levels. Low haemoglobin has to be investigated and treated appropriately and this can completely resolve dizziness.

Closing Remarks

In conclusion, dizziness remains a common problem and treating the cause is what can help solve it. While it can be quite a frustrating process to find out the reason why you are feeling dizzy, once the right treatment is given, you will begin to feel a lot better.

© 2018 Dr Vivek Baliga B

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