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July 16, 2019

Six reasons you may be feeling dizzy

Adult Health Dizziness

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Sudden bouts of dizziness can be extremely disorienting, but they’re actually pretty common. Fortunately, the underlying causes of most dizzy spells are responsive to treatment when appropriately addressed. If you're experiencing dizziness, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

Here are six reasons you might be feeling dizzy:

1. Vertigo

Typically occurring in adults over 65, vertigo causes people to feel as though their surroundings, are moving or spinning. It’s typically caused by issues in the inner ear, sometimes due to an ear infection or a disruption in the fluid-filled ear canals that help the body accurately perceive motion. Accompanying symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, abnormal eye movements, or a ringing sensation in the ears.

2. Low blood pressure

In young, healthy people, low blood pressure is typically not cause for concern. For the elderly, however, low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem—one that may cause poor blood flow to the heart, brain, and other organs. When blood pressure drops suddenly—usually when you stand up too fast—it can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. This is called postural hypotension, and effects an estimated 10 to 20 percent of people over the age of 65.

3. Dehydration

If you haven’t had much water in the last few days, dehydration is a likely cause for a dizzy spell. Without enough fluid, the volume of your blood decreases, preventing your brain from getting enough blood. With severe dehydration, intravenous fluid may be necessary. In most cases, however, a glass or two of water will do the trick. Just remember to drink about two liters of water a day to prevent lightheadedness, dizziness, and other symptoms of dehydration.

4. Heat exposure

In the summer months, it’s tempting to spend all day spread out on a beach towel or roaming your favorite Philadelphia parks. But the exposure to extreme heat can cause health risks, like heat cramps, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke. Often in combination with dehydration, high temperatures can cause the body’s temperature regulation system to fail— especially in elderly people. Symptoms of heat-related illness include dizziness and light-headedness, lack of sweating, muscle weakness, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.

5. Medication

Medication-induced side effects are one of the most common causes of dizzy spells, especially with drugs like sedatives, anti-convulsants, and high-blood pressure medications. In the case of drug-induced dizzy spells, it can be more difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. It may be a poor mixture of medications, consumption of alcohol in combination with the medication, or the result of a missed dosage. Be sure to talk to your doctor about lowering your dosage or finding an alternative medication, but don't discontinue your current treatment without your doctor's guidance.

6. Anxiety or stress

Dizziness is an extremely common symptom of stress and anxiety, often present in those people with underlying Panic Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The heightened levels of adrenaline experienced during an anxiety or panic attack often cause people to feel woozy and light-headed, along with other symptoms like trembling, feelings of unreality, numbness, pounding heart rate, chills, and shortness of breath. If you’re going through a period of intense stress or anxiety and experience the above symptoms, reach out to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can assess the best treatment plan for you.

Dizzy spells are scary when they happen, and they can disrupt your life if they're frequent and prolonged. If you're experiencing dizzy spells, it's definitely something to discuss with your doctor.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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