Dizziness: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Dizziness refers to a range of sensations, such as unsteadiness, whirling, being woozy in the heads. There are four common conditions that can be considered types of dizziness: vertigo, lightheadedness, disequilibrium and anxiety. It is a common condition, but it can be serious. Frequent dizzy spells or constant dizziness can significantly affect people’s life. But dizziness rarely leads to a life-threatening condition. Dizziness isn’t a disease, but rather a symptom of various disorders. Disturbances of the brain, gastrointestinal system, vision, and the vestibular system of the inner ear can cause dizziness.

Causes

There
are various possible causes that can lead to dizziness.

  • Inner ear problems

The
sense of balance depends on the combined input from many parts of people’s
sensory system. These include your eyes, sensory nerves and inner ear. Inner
ear problems which will cause dizziness include benign paroxysmal positional
vertigo (BPPV), infection, Meniere’s disease and migraine.

BPPV
causes an intense and brief sense that you’re spinning or moving. This sense is
triggered by a rapid change in head movement, such as when you turn over in
bed, sit up or experience a blow to the head. BPPV is the most common cause of
vertigo.

A
viral infection of the vestibular nerve, called vestibular neuritis, can also cause
intense, constant vertigo.

Meniere’s
disease involves the excessive buildup of fluid in your inner ear.

People
who experience migraines may have symptoms of vertigo or other types of
dizziness even when they are not experiencing a severe headache.

  • Circulation problems

People
may feel dizzy, faint or off balance if the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to
brain. Causes include drop in blood pressure, poor blood circulation, heat
attack and arrhythmia.

  •  Medications

Dizziness can be a side effect of certain medications, such as blood pressure medications, diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, pain relievers, and some antibiotics.

  • Other causes

Neurological
conditions. Some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and
multiple sclerosis, can lead to loss of balance.

Brain
diseases or conditions. These may include stroke, tumor, headaches, dementia or
confusion.

Anxiety
disorders. Certain anxiety disorders may cause lightheadedness or a woozy
feeling. These include panic attacks and a fear of leaving home or being in
large, open spaces.

Low
iron levels. Other signs and symptoms that may occur along with dizziness if
you have anemia include fatigue, weakness and pale skin.

Low
blood sugar. This condition generally occurs in people with diabetes who use
insulin. Dizziness may be accompanied by sweating and anxiety.

Overheating and dehydration. If people don’t drink enough fluids in hot weathers, they may feel dizzy from overheating or from dehydration. It often happens especially when people take certain heart medications.

Symptoms

People
who experience dizziness may have various sensations, including:

  • lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • a false sense of spinning
  • unsteadiness
  • loss of balance
  • feeling of floating or swimming
  • weakness or tiredness
  • confusion
  • headache or head pressure
  • chest pain or tightness
  • nausea or vomiting

Diagnosis

Patients
will be first given a physical examination. During this examination, the doctor
will check how you walk and maintain your balance and how the major nerves of
your central nervous system are working.

If you
have symptoms of dizziness, doctors may immediately order an MRI or CT scan and
electrocardiogram (ECG).

You may also need some balance tests based on the diseases suggested by your history and results of the physical exam, which include eye movement testing, head movement testing, posturography, rotary chair testing. In addition, blood tests can be used to check for infection and other tests to check heart and blood vessel health.

Treatment

Treatment
for dizziness varies, depending on the underlying causes. Dizziness can often
get better without treatment in a couple of weeks.

Meditations are the common treatment for dizziness. Prescription drugs can relieve the symptoms and make them more manageable. For example, you can take water pills, along with a low-salt diet may help reduce how often you have dizziness episodes. Antihistamines and anticholeretics can be used to relieve vertigo, dizziness and nausea. Besides, you can also take anti-anxiety medications which help with anxiety disorders, such as diazepam and alprazolam. However, they may cause addiction and drowsiness.

Various
therapies are also considered as a good treatment option, such as head position
maneuvers, balance therapy and psychotherapy.

If a person’s dizziness is caused by a serious medical problem, such as a heart attack or stroke, then emergency injection, blood transfusion, intervention, or surgery may be needed.

Keywords: Dizziness

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