Why Am I Dizzy? --Top 10 Causes
and Remedies

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May 31, 2010, last updated April 18, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other
members of our Editorial Board.]




Chances are, at some point in your life, you're going to be
dizzy. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology
(Head and Neck Surgery), more than two million people visit
the doctor each year for dizziness. It’s an almost universal
complaint and can be unpleasant or sometimes seriously
worrying. But what exactly causes dizziness? And are there
any natural remedies such as food or changes of habit that
can help?

Dizziness means different things to different people. Some
people complain of a lightheaded feeling while others
experience unsteadiness.  Others feel dizzy when traveling in
a car or boat. Many report a sensation of spinning or
turning, as if the world is whirling around them. This is
referred to as vertigo, which comes from the Latin "to turn",
and is frequently associated with a problem of the inner ear.

A 2000 Medline study looked at 12 articles on dizziness and
found dizziness was attributed to problems with the inner
ear and balance in more than 70 percent of cases. Dizziness
is a symptom, not a disease, and can be caused by a number
of conditions although it is highly treatable and is not usually
an indication of a serious medical problem. Treatment will
depend on which condition is causing the person to feel
dizzy.

Here are the Top 10 causes for dizziness and the
recommended remedies, according to medical research:




























1.
Problems With Your Inner Ear Can Make You  Dizzy

Your sense of balance is a highly complex and delicate bodily
function. The inner ear, eyes, skin, muscle receptors and the
central nervous system all work together to maintain it. The
inner ear monitors motion. The eyes take care of knowing
where the body is in space. The skin pressure receptors take
note of which part of the body is touching the ground. The
muscles tell the brain which parts of the body are moving
and the central nervous system acts like a conductor to
coordinate them all.

You will feel dizzy when the central nervous system receives
conflicting messages. This can happen on a plane in
turbulence when your eyes don’t see any motion but your
inner ear senses it.

Viral infections that disrupt the inner ear are a common
cause of dizziness, for example Labyrinthitis, an inflammation
of the inner ear, or the common cold.

With Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), feeling
dizzy is believed to be caused by debris which has collected
within the inner ear. As you get older it is more likely that
dizziness is due to BPPV. About 50 percent of all dizziness in
older people is due to BPPV. In a 2000 study (Oghalai, J. S.,
et al.), 9 percent of a group of urban dwelling elders were
found to have undiagnosed BPPV.

BPPV is the most common cause of dizziness in adults,
according to a 2011 study by Dr. Jeremy Hornibrook of the
Department of Otolaryngology of Christchurch Hospital in
New Zealand.  

The most common medical conditions which cause the
detachment of debris in your inner ear, and thus BPPV, are
trauma to your head, vestibular neuritis,
Ménière's disease,
and post-surgical complications.  Meniere's disease is
affected by the amount of salt you eat, so reducing the
amount of salt in your diet could help to relieve dizziness
caused by this disease.


2.
Treating Dizziness with Movement Therapy Can Be
Effective

Guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology
(published in the May 27, 2008 issue of ‘Neurology’) state
that treating BPPV is simple and quick. A procedure of head
and neck manoeuvres carried out by a doctor or therapist
can be the best way to achieve relief. You can treat short
term occurrences of vertigo and dizziness yourself by finding
a focal point as soon as you start to feel dizzy. Sit down or
stand still and focus on a non-moving object to help your
brain regain balance. When coming out of a dizzy spell move
slowly and deliberately and use objects to steady yourself as
it passes.

3.
Low Blood Pressure Can Cause Dizziness

Low blood pressure, which can have many causes from
medication to heart disease and bleeding disorder, can cause
a person to feel dizzy, lightheaded or on the verge of
passing out. When blood pressure is low, not enough
oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the brain, which affects its
functioning. Orthostatic hypotension is a type of low blood
pressure. When you stand up, the blood vessels usually
respond by narrowing to prevent blood pressure falling too
low. With orthostatic hypotension the blood vessels do not
constrict, cutting the supply of blood to the brain. Many of
us suffer from this from time to time and you may notice it if
you get up from the bed too quickly in the morning.

4.
Problems With Your Heart Can Cause Dizziness

Any condition that affects the heart’s ability to effectively
distribute blood around the body can cause dizziness.
Arrhythmia, hardening of the arteries,
poor circulation or
heart attack can be serious, though unusual, culprits.

Dizziness caused by heart problems is more common in the
elderly or those with a weakened heart muscle as well as
those with
high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

A 2010 Netherlands study into the causes of persistent
dizziness in elderly patients in primary care studied 417
people aged between 65 and 95. The study found that
cardiovascular disease was the most common major
contributory cause of dizziness, occurring in 57 percent of
cases.

5.
Nicotine, Caffeine and Salt Can Make You Dizzy

When your brain isn’t provided with enough blood you can
feel lightheaded or dizzy. Certain drugs such as nicotine and
caffeine can decrease blood flow to the brain, affecting your
sense of balance and causing dizziness.
Excess salt in the
diet can lead to poor circulation and, in turn, reduced supply
of blood to the brain. In more serious, and rare, cases
disruption of the blood supply to the brain through
stroke
may cause dizziness.

6.
Certain Medications May Make You Dizzy

This is a tricky one to pin down as almost all medications list
dizziness as a possible side effect. Particular care should be
taken with certain blood pressure medications, sedatives,
tranquilizers, antidepressant drugs and with some pain relief
medication. Consult your doctor if you are taking medication
and feeling dizzy every day or most days in the week.

7.
Low Blood Sugar Can Cause Dizziness

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia, causes dizziness. A
diabetic can develop hypoglycemia from eating too little food
or from taking too much insulin medication. The patient feels
dizzy because the brain lacks the glucose it needs to function
properly. Dizziness is a common complaint in patients with
diabetes but can be remedied by eating sugary food.

8.
High Blood Sugar Also Causes Dizziness

High blood sugar levels occur in the body when there is not
enough insulin available to bind with the glucose in the
blood. The glucose is used for energy and when it is not
properly converted it can cause poor brain function. Thus,
high blood sugar can cause dizziness.

A 2009 study of blood glucose and insulin levels in patients
with peripheral vestibular disease (a disorder of the sense of
balance, causing dizziness) found that 87.7 percent of the
patients with dizziness and suspicion of peripheral vestibular
disorder had glucose or insulin metabolism disorders. This
does not necessarily mean they had diabetes.

9.
Your Dizziness Could Be Caused by Psychological
Conditions

Anxiety and panic attacks, particularly in combination with
hyperventilation, can cause dizziness. Breathing too hard or
too fast can cause a dizzy spell. Additionally, circulation can
be impaired by spasms in the arteries caused by stress and
anxiety which restricts blood flow to the brain.

A 2005 study by the Departments of Psychiatry and
Otorhinolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery) and The
Balance Center at the University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia found treating patients with SSRIs (selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors) was effective in reducing
dizziness associated with anxiety.

A reduction in negative beliefs concerning dizziness can also
help patients recover faster. A 2002 study published in
‘Current Opinion in Neurology’ found patients who believed
their dizziness was out of control showed the slowest
progression to full recovery after the initial cause of the
condition was removed. The study showed that the patient
who progressed well was one who, at the psychological
level, was not afraid of the symptoms and had some positive
control over them.

10.
People With Osteoporosis Are More Likely to Feel Dizzy

Surprisingly, osteoporosis is linked with dizziness. A Korean
study in the journal ‘Neurology’ found that people with the
bone disease osteoporosis, which increases the risk of
fracture, are also more likely to suffer from vertigo. The
study looked at 209 people suffering from vertigo with no
known cause and compared them with 202 people with no
dizziness, also measuring bone density.

The result showed that those with low bone density, or
osteoporosis, were 3 times more likely to have vertigo than
those with normal bone density. Researchers said “these
findings suggest a problem with calcium metabolism in
people with vertigo.”

In particular, BPPV, which we discussed above, has been
linked with osteoporosis. In a study carried out in 2008 by
Dr. D. Vibert D and Dr. A Sans called "
Ultrastructural changes
in otoconia of osteoporotic rats
", the researchers
intentionally gave lab rats osteoporosis. Scanning the ears
with ultrasound, they discovered that the rats had also
suffered degeneration of the "otolith" structures of the inner
ear, a degeneration which causes dizziness. Another study of
women --- also by Dr. Vibert of the University of Berne in
Switzerland discovered that 75% of all women with
osteoporosis also suffer from vertigo caused by BPPV.

Update:

11.
Multiple Sclerosis Can Cause Dizziness.

People with multiple sclerosis can experience dizziness.
About 20% of MS sufferers also experience dizziness,
according to a 2003 study from the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center's Department of Neurology in
Dallas. The cause of this dizziness can be lesions in the
vestibular nuclei of the root entry zone of your cranial
nerves. Other causes include benign paroxysmal positioning
vertigo, which doctors have successfully treated using re-
positioning maneuvers.

More often than not, the dizziness disappears over time. If
you have multiple sclerosis and are experiencing dizziness,
you may benefit from exercises that improve your balance
such as Tai Chi. The causes of dizziness in multiple sclerosis
sufferers can be numerous, from central nervous
impairments to diet to others, so it's best to consult your
doctor if the dizziness persists.

12.
POTS Syndrome Can Make You Dizzy

A little known syndrome called POTS syndrome can make
you feel dizzy when you stand up. POTS (postural
orthostatic tachycardiacan be caused by a number of other
medical conditions including heart problems, menstrual
problems, menopause as well as certain vitamin deficiencies.
(Read more about the Top 10
causes and cures for POTS
syndrome.)



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