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Feeling Lightheaded and Dizzy

Charlie S Mar 12, 2019
Feeling lightheaded and dizzy is quite a familiar experience for most of us. While these symptoms are explainable in certain situations, there also are many instances when these occur without us being able to identify any concrete cause behind them. When this happens, we tend to get perturbed. Let us help you understand the possible causes behind the same.
The terms "lightheaded" and "dizzy" are different, but correlated. Dizziness is a term that is broadly used to describe the feeling of lightheadedness (a feeling like you're about to pass out), and vertigo (the spinning sensation of falling while standing still).
Dizziness itself is an extremely nonspecific term used to define various symptoms. For example, if we define dizziness as the feeling of visual haziness, unsteadiness, or weakness, dizziness for you may be feelings like - vertigo, lightheadedness, or lack of balance. In fact, dizziness broadly consists of both these aspects - vertigo and lightheadedness.
A constant occurrence of dizzy spells may hamper your normal routine. In fact, before you visit your healthcare specialist, it is important for you to take note of your symptoms. When was the last time you felt dizzy? Was it during a specific time of the day?
Does any activity aggravate this symptom? Understanding the pattern of your dizziness and lightheadedness, would help the doctor rule out certain causes.

Possible Causes of Dizziness

Most of the causes are not of a serious nature, and can be easily cured with the help of simple treatment options. Most times, these symptoms disappear on their own without the need for treatment. Some of the common causes are explained as follows:

Low Blood Pressure

Do you experience sudden dizzy spells when you stand or sit up quickly? The medical term for this condition is orthostatic hypotension, wherein the blood pressure of your body drops momentarily, when you sit or stand after lying down, or when you suddenly change your posture from a position of rest.
The body has to quickly adjust to this change in position, while trying to regain its normal blood pressure, within moments. However, in some people, it takes several minutes for blood pressure to return to normal, where until then, they may experience lightheadedness.

Dehydration

Another cause for sudden dizzy spells is dehydration. When our body lacks sufficient fluid, we tend to experience lightheadedness, unsteadiness and foggy eyesight. Most of us do not feel thirsty and so, do not consume enough water. However, during exercise, or when exposed to extreme heat during the summer, lack of water will cause an imbalance in the body.
People who are on heart medication, should take proper care of their fluid intake. Consumption of alcohol also dehydrates the body to a great extent. Also, if you have been suffering from fever, diarrhea, or a bout of vomiting, then you may feel dizzy as a result.

Ear Problems

A number of causes are associated with the ears. Certain types of inner ear problems may lead to persistent lightheadedness and disequilibrium. A condition called acoustic neuroma, is a noncancerous growth on the nerve that connects your brain with the inner part of the ear, causing dizziness.
Vertigo may be experienced in the case of Ménière's disease, when there is an excessive buildup of fluid in the inner ear region. Acute vestibular neuritis, the medical term for inflammation of the inner ear, is another reason where one may experience vertigo for many days.
Associated symptoms with this condition are: nausea, vomiting, and lack of balance. One's hearing abilities may be hampered, leading to an ear disorder known as labyrinthitis - inflammation of the labyrinth in the inner ear. Labyrinthitis also causes vertigo along with other serious complications that include sickness and vomiting.

Migraine

For people who suffer from migraine headaches, dizziness accompanied by vertigo, may be an additional symptom besides evident pain. The sensation of the room spinning around you, may last until the headache subsides or longer. Even the presence of light or noise, can bring on vertigo.
It is said that the changes taking place within the blood vessels of the brain are responsible for migraines, and so is believed to be the reason behind vertigo, which in many cases, may last for several days.

Low Blood Sugar

For people who have diabetes and use insulin, a drop in blood sugar levels - known as hypoglycemia - may cause dizziness along with other symptoms like confusion and sweating profusely.

Medications

The use of certain medications, like the ones used to lower your blood pressure, can lower it below the desired levels - this may cause lightheadedness. Also, if medications like anti-seizure drugs, sedatives, etc., are used, dizziness can be experienced.

Pregnancy

Women might feel lightheaded and dizzy during pregnancy, due to the drastic changes taking place in their body. Pregnancy causes low blood pressure, since the body increases blood flow to the baby, thereby reducing the blood supply to your brain, resulting in dizziness.
The growth of the baby may put pressure on the blood vessels, which may cause dizziness during the second trimester. Women who are anemic are more susceptible to feeling dizzy. People who are anemic, be it men or women, are likely to experience dizziness along with fatigue.

Arrhythmia and Other Heart Problems

Our heart is the organ responsible for blood supply to the entire body. In case of a heart condition called cardiomyopathy that affects the heart muscle, the lack of blood supply may cause faintness. Even arrhythmia - the medical term for abnormal heart rhythm - may cause dizziness.

Depression and Anxiety

Dizziness may occur when one is depressed or is dealing with anxiety. Experts associate panic disorders, anxiety, depression, etc., with dizziness. Anxiety attacks instigate panic in people, leading to lightheadedness because of the instant adrenaline rush.
Anxiety also affects the breathing pattern of a person. It causes hyperventilation, which may lead to dizziness. Intake of certain antidepressants may also result in the same.

Other Causes

Other causes include: tobacco usage, consumption of illegal drugs, allergies, cold, flu, internal bleeding, heavy menstruation, etc. There is also a condition called chronic subjective dizziness, wherein people suffer from dizziness without any reasonable cause.
It is believed that these people are hypersensitive to their own movements. In addition to that, the exposure to complex visuals (varied things in a mall or supermarket) may cause lightheadedness in these people.
As you can see, the causes can vary between an ear infection to a heart problem. In fact, there are also cases where the cause is unknown. It is very important to keep a tab on the pattern of the symptoms' occurrence.
Have a discussion with your healthcare specialist regarding the accompanied symptoms, if there are any. Symptoms like weakness, lethargy, pain in the eyes, chest pain, cramping, or blurred vision, may be observed.
The treatment for dizziness and lightheadedness would vary depending upon the exact cause diagnosed. However, as a precautionary measure, we can follow valuable lifestyle changes, to lessen the chances of experiencing these symptoms.
Ensuring simple yet important things like - staying well hydrated, avoiding tobacco/alcohol and recreational drugs, following a balanced diet to avoid any nutritional deficiencies and maintaining normal blood pressure/blood sugar levels will help you win half the battle. With timely medical care and treatment, you can overcome this problem successfully.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.