Dizziness refers to a sensation of lightheadedness or weakness. When dizziness makes you feel as if you or your surroundings are spinning, it is known as vertigo. Many people also use the term dizziness to describe a feeling faintness or unsteadiness.
Dizziness is rarely a cause for concern and is very common in adults. There could be a variety of factors that lead to dizziness, and only in rare cases, does it imply a serious condition. In severe cases, frequent dizziness can affect an individual’s ability to perform daily functions. The treatment for dizziness depends on the cause and severity of the condition.
Symptoms of Dizziness
Dizziness can result in the following symptoms:
- Vertigo which gives you the sense that you or things around you are moving
- A feeling that you are about to faint
- Loss of balance
- A sensation of heaviness in the head
- A feeling of being light or even floating
These symptoms may be caused by various health problems. Some conditions can also disrupt the communication between the sensory systems in the body (such as the eyes, inner ears, sensory nerves) and the brain. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience frequent dizzy spells and lightheadedness. Also consult your doctor if you experience any of the following dizziness symptoms:
- Sudden dizzy spells
- A head injury
- Severe stiffness in the neck
- Disturbances in vision
- High fever
- Loss of hearing
- Speech problems
- Difficulty in walking
- Frequent falling
- Weakness in the limbs
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
- Slow heart rate
Causes of Dizziness
Dizziness is characterized by vertigo, faintness, and loss of balance. Some common causes of each of these key sensations are as follows:
1. Vertigo: The sensation of vertigo occurs when the nerves of the vestibular system are affected. The vestibular system is a part of the inner ear which regulates balance. These structures are sensitive to movement and changes in the position of the head. Vertigo may also trigger nausea, vomiting, and trouble in balancing. The common causes of vertigo include:
- Inner ear Inflammation: When the inner ear gets infected or inflamed, vertigo may occur suddenly and may persist for many days. Labyrinthitis is a condition which leads to sudden loss of hearing along with vertigo.
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: This is a condition which leads to short bouts of vertigo when there is a change in head position or while sitting up in the morning.
- Acoustic Neuroma: This is a benign growth which develops on the nerve that connects the inner ear and brain. It may lead to tinnitus, imbalances and dizziness.
- Meniere’s Disease: This is a rare condition that is associated with excessive fluid buildup in the inner ear.
- Migrainous Vertigo: Some individuals may experience vertigo during a migraine.
- Vertigo, in rare cases, may be associated with neurological problems and may accompany other symptoms such as blurry vision, speech impairment, and severe imbalance.
2. Faintness: A feeling of faintness may sometimes be accompanied by nausea and clamminess. It may be caused by any of the following:
- Low Blood Pressure: A sudden drop in blood pressure may bring about a feeling of faintness. This may happen when you stand up suddenly.
- Reduced Blood Output from the Heart: Conditions of the heart muscles, irregular heart rhythm, or a drop in blood volume can affect the flow of blood from the heart and lead to faintness.
3. Loss of Balance: It is also referred to as disequilibrium and leads to a sensation of unsteadiness. Some common causes include:
- Conditions of the Inner Ear: Such conditions can make you feel faint or unsteady while walking.
- Conditions that Affect the Sensory Nerves: Balance may be affected when there is nerve damage.
- Neurological Problems: Conditions such as Parkinsons disease can lead to a gradual loss of balance.
- Medications: The intake of certain medications such as sedatives can results in side effects which include dizziness.
You may also experience dizziness due to anxiety disorders. Individuals who suffer from panic attacks may sometimes complain of feeling of heavy-headed or dizzy.
Remedies for Dizziness
Here are some helpful home remedies for dizziness:
- Sit down as soon as you start feeling dizzy.
- Get rid of things like rugs or electrical wires which may cause you to trip when you feel dizzy. It is also a good idea to use non-slip mats in the bathroom.
- Don’t drive when you experience dizziness.
- Keep a night light on in case you need to get out of bed at night.
- Use a cane if you feel unsteady while walking.
- Avoid the intake of alcohol or caffeine as these substances can worsen the symptoms of dizziness.
- Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your symptoms and how to treat dizziness at home.
- Simple exercises are sometimes the best cure for dizziness symptoms. Rotating the neck or moving the eyeballs in all directions helps in dealing with dizziness. You can also perform standing or walking exercises. However consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
- Get proper treatment for underlying disorders that may be causing dizziness. It is important to seek early treatment for ear infections and to continue the treatment until the infection goes away. Other conditions such as respiratory infections and flu can also result in dizziness and it is important to get them treated.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids such as fresh fruit juices. However avoid sugary and carbonated beverages such as colas.
- A beneficial dizziness treatment which improves blood circulation and brings about stability is a mixture of salt, vinegar, mustard and pepper. Mix the ingredients in equal parts and consume with a glass of water.
- Home remedies for vertigo also include lemon. Add a little salt, pepper and water to lemon extract and consume.
- Add honey to apple cider vinegar and drink for relief from symptoms of dizziness.
- To alleviate tension in the body and enhance the flow of blood, you can opt for massage therapy. Use of essential oils such as lavender in massage therapy is greatly beneficial.
- Add a few pumpkin seeds and ten almonds to three tablespoons of wheat and soak overnight. Grind into a paste in the morning and add a couple of cloves. Add the mixture to milk and bring to a boil. Consume this daily for some days.
- Indian gooseberry is a great natural remedy for dizziness. Soak a few pieces of Indian gooseberry and coriander for one night and consume the next morning.
- Ginger helps to relieve dizziness and nausea. Studies have shown that it may even be more effective that over-the-counter medications. You can use ginger in the form of supplements. You can also prepare a ginger tea by adding a half inch piece of ginger root to boiling water. Sipping on some ginger ale or chewing on ginger candy is also helpful in treating dizziness.
- When you start feeling dizzy, practice deep breathing. Inhale slowly and take in more air during each breath. This helps to soothe the nerves and alleviates stress.
- Many individuals are able to manage a vertigo episode by drinking a couple of glasses of iced water.
- Make sure that you get enough sleep every night.
- The herb ginkgo biloba is known to alleviate feelings of lightheadedness.
- Black cohosh helps to relieve vertigo due to high blood pressure. Use of this herb is not advisable in case of pregnant women.
- To calm the nerves and reduce mental tension, sip on chamomile tea.
Diet for Dizziness
Here are some dietary tips to prevent dizziness:
- Divide your meals into smaller portions instead of having large meals during the day. This will allow digestion to take place properly and will give you energy throughout the day.
- Restrict your intake of foods high in carbohydrates.
- Eat citrus fruits while travelling to prevent motion sickness.
- Increase your intake of iron. Consume foods containing iron such as green leafy vegetables and eggs. In case you suffer from iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement. It is also important to increase intake of vitamin C as it helps in iron absorption.
- Never skip meals. If you are unable to eat a full meal, opt for a healthy snack such as fruit or toast and peanut butter.
Suggestion for Dizziness
Dizziness may lead to a blackout in some cases. This can be indicative of a serious underlying condition. Therefore it is best to alert a family member or friend about any symptoms you may experience. They can then provide the information to a doctor. Individuals who are diabetic may need to eat something sweet to elevate their blood sugar levels during episodes of dizziness. A family member or friend will also be able to help in this regard.
- Ronald J. Tusa, Dizziness, Medical Clinics of North America, Volume 93, Issue 2, March 2009, Pages 263-271, ISSN 0025-7125, 10.1016/j.mcna.2008.09.005.
- Kamran Barin, Edward E. Dodson, Dizziness in the Elderly, Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America, Volume 44, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 437-454, ISSN 0030-6665, 10.1016/j.otc.2011.01.013.