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Dizzy Spells

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Feeling dizzy, rapid reeling sensation, a whirling sensation in the head or feeling of losing balance? It could strike all of a sudden while lying down, sitting, standing, when looking down from a tall building, after a roller coaster ride etc.

Referred to as dizziness, it isn't a serious concern if small episode is experienced at some time. But if constant dizziness strikes for unknown reason and interferes with daily activities, it's time to seek medical attention. Dizziness symptoms like dizziness and nausea, dizziness and headache, dizziness and balance, tracking dizzy spells determine further course of action.


Dizziness symptoms

Dizziness symptoms may come and go may last few seconds, hours, or days.


  • Loss of balance

  • Light headedness

  • Feeling of fainting/passing out

  • Weakness

  • Feeling in motion

  • Nausea

  • Blurred vision


Types of dizziness

Dizziness is a broad term. There are many instances when individuals use the words dizzy, dizzy spells to express reactions. For example, the sight of blood can make some feel dizzy. Other instances are when standing still for long, while having flu or cold, due to seasickness or motion sickness or when too exhausted or when emotionally drained and upset. Even exhaustion or hunger can result in sudden dizziness.

Pregnant women experience morning dizziness with/without nausea and vomiting sensation. For relief, prepare and drink a mixture of two teaspoons of wheat germ with lukewarm milk. The easiest way to take control of morning dizziness is to extend time of rest and sleep further. There are other instances when sudden morning dizziness strikes.


  • Getting up and out of bed too quickly.

  • Inner ear problems, head injuries, migraine.

  • Intake of medications including antibiotics, antidepressants.

  • Illness such as cold or flu may make you feel weak and dizzy upon waking.

  • Excessive alcohol intake the previous night.

  • Benign positional vertigo.


Morning dizziness may be related to regular dizziness. In each instance, the word 'dizzy' means different things to different people. In the absence of a specific meaning, dizziness types are categorized into four conditions. Severity of dizziness determines condition.

Faintness/lightheadedness: In medical terms, faintness or lightheadedness is known as presyncope. The person is likely to feel lightheaded and faint. This type of dizzy spell is more common in children and young teenagers. Dizziness and nausea, dizziness and vomiting, dizziness and sweating, shortness of breath and pale skin are associated symptoms that may accompany a feeling of faintness.

Loss of balance: Otherwise known as disequilibrium, the individual will experience a feeling of unsteadiness while walking.

Vertigo: The individual is likely to express a spinning sensation when there is no motion, tilting or swaying or feeling off balance.

Anxiety: The word 'dizzy' is often used to express feelings such as being scared, depressed or afraid of open spaces. In all, the individual is expressing an anxious state of mind.


Dizziness may be temporary or chronic. Dizzy spells that last for more than a month is considered to be chronic dizziness. Though dizziness or dizzy spells can occur at any age, chronic dizziness is common amongst older people. In terms of duration, some experience dizzy spells just for few seconds, for some constant dizziness is so intense that it knocks them down. Even a random dizzy spell can impact confidence level because you never know when it will strike again as it can happen anywhere, anytime.


Causes of dizziness


The cause can be very simple like delayed mealtime or standing up too quickly or due to exhaustion or severe infection. Some causes are benign and others more serious. In most cases, dizziness is harmless. In some cases, it could be a symptom of an underlying health problem. Each type of dizziness tends to have characteristic causes.


Causes of Lightheadedness


  • People with low blood pressure complain lightheadedness, which could be the result of an underlying health condition or a normal physiological condition.

  • Lightheadedness could be due to a drop in systolic blood pressure, which usually occurs after sitting up or standing too quickly.

  • A cause of lightheadedness may be inadequate output of blood from the heart due to an abnormal heart rhythm or decrease in blood volume, disease of the heart muscle.

  • With increasing age, older people experience light-headedness if they get up too quickly from a lying or seated position.

  • Heart problems can lead to light-headedness with associated symptoms like chest pain, palpitating heart, loss of speech, and change in vision.


Causes of disequilibrium/loss of balance


  • An inner ear problem is likely to creating feeling of unsteadiness while walking, especially in the dark.

  • Sensory disorders like failing vision, peripheral neuropathy like nerve damage in legs, which is common among older adults, may cause in loss of balance or maintain equilibrium.

  • Joint and muscles problems or weakness and osteoarthritis can contribute to loss of balance.

  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, cerebellar ataxia, spinal cord disorders can over a period of time lead to loss of balance.

  • Loss of balance could be a side effect of medications such as anti-seizure drugs, sedatives and tranquilizers.


Causes of vertigo

Vestibular imbalance, an imbalance in the inner part of the ear is a major cause of Vertigo. There are health conditions that contribute as well certain factors that can result in vestibular imbalance.


  • Anemia and migraine can trigger vertigo.

  • Signals possibility of stroke, brain tumor,multiple sclerosis, seizures or a bleed in the brain. Neck ailments like severe spondylosis.

  • Cardiovascular disorders like low blood pressure, heart rhythms and valve diseases.

  • Arthritic pains can contribute to aggravating vertigo.

  • Inflammation or infection of the inner ear that aid with balance and sense movement.

  • Viral illnesses like common cold and flu.

  • Severe migraines, Meniere's disease that causes a buildup of fluid in the inner ear and extends a feeling of ringing in the ear.

  • Decreased blood flow to the brain.

  • Certain medications can damage the ear and lead to vertigo.

  • Psychological disturbances, post-traumatic vertigo, and post-partum vertigo can cause an off balance feeling from time to time.


Other causes: Intake of certain medications like anti-depressants, anti-seizure drugs, drugs to control high blood pressure, sedatives and tranquilizers may cause sudden dizziness. General health problems such as thyroid deficiency, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, anemia, and immune system diseases are other possible causes.


Time to seek medical help

There are times when sudden dizziness and dizzy spells just go away without signs of recurrence. Such cases do not require a doctor's consultation. Being aware of such instances is important. For example, when a new medication is taken, you may experience sudden dizziness. It's quite common to experience side effects for the first few doses when certain antibiotics, heart medications and anti-seizure medications are taken. Adjusting the dosage or substituting another medication usually solves the problem. If dizzy spells are caused due to a common disorder like benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, simply turn the head a certain way to get relief.

If dizziness or vertigo, dizziness or lightheadedness, dizziness or disequillibrium persists, you should seek medical attention immediately. Monitor and record the symptoms. Take it along and explain in detail to the medical practitioner. If constant dizziness is associated with chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, changes in vision or speech, serious head injury, leg or arm weakness, loss of consciousness that lasts for few minutes, it is best to seek emergency medical attention. It may imply a serious health condition. An in-depth diagnosis is urgently required.

Diagnostic tests that may be required include measuring blood pressure, ECG, hearing tests, neurological tests, balance testing and MRI. Many disorders can be treated with medication, surgery, diet, a change in lifestyle, or a combination of these.


Treatment for dizziness

Treatment for constant and sudden dizziness depends largely on dizziness symptoms and underlining cause. If diagnostic tests are recommended, the test results will decide treatment solution. Treatment recommendations can be one or a combination of the following.


  • Treat underlying disorder that is causing dizziness.

  • Reduce alcohol consumption

  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine

  • Talk therapy

  • Specific exercises or physiotherapy

  • Medications

  • Balance retraining exercises.


Home remedies to relieve constant dizziness

Simple changes in diet after identifying triggers can help gain relief from dizziness. Maintain a journal. Record the effectiveness and over a period of time you will find what works best for respective dizziness type. Here are general home care measures and specific for a particular type of constant dizziness.


General Measures


  • Drink plenty of fluids.

  • Don't skip meals.

  • Get quality rest, develop regular sleep pattern.

  • Skip alcohol.

  • Find ways to relieve stress.

  • Avoid foods that trigger dizziness.

  • Don't hurry up while about to stand or sit.

  • Check blood pressure from time to time.

  • Take prescribed medications regularly.

  • Practice aerobic exercises.

  • Take in long breaths so that body gets oxygen that is required.


For vertigo


  • Try herbal remedies like chewing ginger or drinking ginger tea.

  • Drink mixture of juice extract of lemon,salt, black pepper and water.

  • Change your sleeping position.

  • >While about to stand or sit, don't hurry up.

  • Do exercises recommended for vertigo treatment.

  • Deep breathing exercises help.

  • Reduce or quit smoking, alcohol consumption.

  • Eat more protein foods.


For lightheadedness


  • Sit down or lie down immediately.

  • Get legs higher than your brain to improve blood circulation.

  • Avoid sudden changes in body position.

  • During the day, drink plenty of water.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Avoid milk and dairy products for few days.


Precautionary measures

Being aware that you are prone to sudden dizziness is the foremost aspect of combating dizziness. Maintaining a journal and tracking down dizzy spells helps to understand the associated aspects such as triggers and duration of constant dizziness. Precautionary measures should be aimed at reducing the chances of recurrent dizzy spells.


  • If not confident of maintaining balance, practice ways to be extra cautious.

  • Avoid falling, which in turn can cause serious injury. Use a cane/walking stick.

  • Make amendments at home by removing tripping hazards like area rugs, exposed electrical cords etc.

  • Replace bath and shower floors with slip proof mats.

  • Don't hurry up when you feel dizzy. Sit for a while and relax.

  • Keep up appointments and discuss related issues with health care provider.

  • Avoid stressful activities.

  • Avoid activities such as driving a car or operating machinery if you experience frequent dizziness spells.

  • Try to drink fluids until the symptoms of dizziness are eliminated.

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