Dizziness or vertigo is an illusion of movement either of the body in space or of space in relation to the body. It is usually related to an inner ear problem.
A person with vertigo has the characteristic sensation of seeing everything revolving around them. However, it is important to differentiate between dizziness and imbalance.
Vertigo is often caused by damage to the vestibular system (inner ear, vestibular nerve, etc.).
The vestibular system has a complex functioning in which several types of information and structures are called upon to act in relation to each other. The dizzying sensation is usually the consequence of an information conflict between these three different structures.
These three types of information which are respectively vestibular (from the vestibules located in the ear), visual and proprioceptive (from receptors at the level of the soles of the feet) allow us to know if we are moving or if it is the environment that is moving or if we are both moving, but also in what direction and at what speed.
However, certain factors and conditions can disrupt the synchrony of these functions. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you could be suffering from dizziness right now.
What causes dizziness
1. Low blood sugar levels
Your body needs sugar, more specifically glucose, for energy. If your blood sugar is too low, you may become dizzy, trembling, and tired.
Insulin and other treatments for diabetes can lead to low blood sugar levels. They ensure that glucose from the blood is absorbed by the body, but with incorrect doses, the blood sugar level can become low.
If you don’t have diabetes, you may also have hypoglycemia. This occurs if you have eaten too little or drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
Other symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Accelerated heart rate
To combat low blood sugar levels, it is best to resort to fast carbohydrates. These can be found in the form of fruit juice or sweets. Furthermore, you can also get your blood sugar level up to standard with a nutritious meal.
If you often suffer from hypoglycemia, you may need to adjust your diabetes medications. Consult your family doctor for this. In addition, it can also help to eat multiple, small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
2. Low blood pressure
Your blood pressure is the force with which you push blood against the walls of the blood vessels as it circulates throughout your body. If it suddenly decreases, you may suffer from dizziness and fatigue.
Additional symptoms are then:
- Disturbed vision
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Clammy, pale skin
- Difficulty concentrating
Possible causes of lower blood pressure are:
- Heart problems
- Serious injury
- Vitamin deficiencies
By identifying and treating the cause, you can raise your blood pressure again. In addition, you can also do that by eating more salt, drinking more water, or wearing compression stockings.
Red blood cells ensure that your organs and tissues receive the necessary oxygen they need to function. People with anemia do not have enough (working) red blood cells in their bodies. This lack of oxygen can lead to dizziness or fatigue.
Other indicators of anemia are:
- Respiratory deficiency
- Weak feeling
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Cold hands and/or feet
- Pale skin
- Pain in the chest
Anemia can be caused by abundant bleeding, lack of nutrients, or incorrect functioning of the bone marrow.
Migraine is an intense, persistent headache that can last from several hours to even days. In addition to the headache, you may also suffer from the following symptoms:
- Irregularities in vision, such as colorful flashes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
People who regularly suffer from migraines can also experience dizziness when they do not have a headache. This can take a few minutes to a few hours.
To prevent migraines, you can first of all try to recognize and avoid triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, and dairy are common causes of migraines. There are also two types of migraine medication that your doctor can prescribe.
- Preventive medication such as antidepressants and stroke medications can prevent a migraine.
- Medications such as NSAID painkillers and triptans can reduce migraines during an attack.
Certain medications have the side effect of dizziness and fatigue. Below is a list of the relevant medications:
- Antidepressants such as fluoxetine and trazodone
- Medication against strokes, such as gabapentin, pregabalin
- Antihypertensive medication such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and diuretics
- Muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine
- Sleeping pills such as diphenhydramine, temazepam and zolpidem
If you experience persistent dizziness and are taking any of the above medications, discuss this with your doctor.
6. Abnormal heart rhythm
When your heart beats to an irregular rhythm, this is referred to as arrhythmia. Your heart then beats too fast or too slowly, or it skips.
Symptoms of arrhythmia in addition to dizziness and fatigue include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Cardiac arrhythmias are treated with blood thinners or blood pressure medications. Avoid substances that can disrupt your heart rhythms, such as caffeine, alcohol, and medication against colds.
7. CFS – chronic fatigue syndrome
CFS is a condition that causes severe fatigue even though you are well-rested. Dizziness and problems with balance are additional symptoms of this disease.
People with CFS may also suffer from the following symptoms:
- Sleep problems
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Allergies to food, medication, and other substances
Because the symptoms are very diverse, CFS is difficult to treat. Your doctor will use different medications and guidance depending on your symptoms.
8. Vestibular Neuronitis
Simple infections such as a cold or the flu can cause inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. This nerve sends sensory signals to the brain to keep you upright and balanced. If that nerve swells, you can suffer from dizziness and fatigue.
Other symptoms of inflammation of the vestibular nerve are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty concentrating
- Blurred vision
Vestibular Neuronitis is usually caused by a viral infection. Antibiotics do not help against this, but the dizziness and associated symptoms normally pass by themselves after a few days.
If you do not drink enough when exercising or in hot weather, your body is deficient in water. When your body does not have enough fluids to function properly, we speak of dehydration.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Little to no urine leakage
To prevent dehydration, you can drink water or an electrolyte drink. In extreme cases, fluid will be administered by infusion in the hospital.
When should you contact a doctor?
If you repeatedly suffer from dizziness, consult your doctor. Contact a doctor immediately if you develop
severe, additional symptoms such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision or loss of vision
- Excessive vomiting
- Chest pain
- High fever
- Difficulty speaking
Preventing and treating dizziness
Depending on the cause of your dizziness, you can do a few things. Try to get enough sleep and eat on time to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels up.
If you suffer from migraines and CFS, your doctor may prescribe your medication to treat the underlying condition.
When you are dizzy and tired, try to sit or lie down until it is over. Avoid driving or don’t walk around too much to avoid accidents.