By Dr. Willie Ong (Internist and Cardiologist)
Everyone feels dizzy sometimes. Dizziness is a general term used to describe anything from a mild unsteadiness to severe vertigo. Vertigo is a severe form of dizziness wherein you feel the environment is spinning around you.
There are different causes of dizziness. Majority are harmless, while some forms of dizziness can be serious. Let’s check on the less serious causes first.
If you have blurred vision, astigmatism or other eye problems, you can get dizzy while reading. Have your eyes checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and get some eyeglasses. If you’re working on a computer for a long time, you may also get dizzy. Rest your eyes and look at a distant object every ten minutes or so.
Anxiety or nervousness
Nervous persons often say they feel dizzy. This is like a panic attack. If you feel an attack is coming, all you have to do is stop what you’re doing and rest for awhile. Doctors may prescribe you a sedative like Bromazepam 1.5 mg (Lexotan) to relax you.
Dizziness can be caused by hunger and low blood sugar. Take some bread, juice or a banana to keep your blood sugar up.
Change in weather
Going to an air-conditioned room after being out in the sun can cause headache and dizziness.
Swaying movements from airplane, boat and car rides can cause dizziness.
Lack of oxygen
Some people get dizzy and may even pass out in crowded areas like a church or a rally. Give the person some room and bring him to a well-ventilated area.
This is the most common cause of vertigo. Our inner ear has a vestibular system, which controls our balance. If you have a cold or flu, this organ could become inflamed, causing severe dizziness lasting for weeks (called Labyrinthitis). Moreover, any sudden change in head position can cause crystals in the ear to break loose and cause dizziness. This is called Benign Positional Vertigo. Consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor to be sure. In the meantime, check out our advice for reducing dizziness.
18 Tips To Reduce Dizziness:
- If you feel dizzy, try to grab hold of a steady object beside you. When you are standing up, the brain can get mixed messages regarding your balance. Holding on to a firm object, like a chair, table or wall, can help your brain refocus and regain its balance.
- Get up slowly from bed. When you wake up in the morning, be sure to give yourself a minute or two to become oriented. Be sure your arms and feet are “awake” already and not numb. Shake your hands and legs to get the blood circulating back to your limbs. Sit up for awhile before attempting to stand.
- If you feel a severe attack of dizziness coming, sit down for a while and don’t move. By staying steady, you may limit the severity of the dizziness.
- For mild dizziness, you may continue with your regular routine. Go on your walks and perform light exercise. It’s important to maintain your body’s muscle strength to keep your balance.
- Wear flat shoes or rubber shoes. Avoid wearing high heels because there is too little contact between the heel and the floor, causing you to feel unsteady. Flat rubber-soled shoes are the best shoes for walking. It’s good for your knees and feet, too.
- Keep a flashlight handy. When walking at night, be sure there is enough lighting in the area. At night, you may like to keep a nightlight on just in case you need to go to the bathroom. A dim environment can confuse your brain and make you feel off balance.
- Avoid walking on carpets or soft ground. Thick carpets make it difficult for the brain to assess its balance.
- Make your homes accident-proof. Install handles in the bathroom, and place a rubber mat on your shower area. Most accidents occur in the bathroom area.
- Decrease your salt intake. By lessening the amount of salty foods you eat, you will also reduce the amount of fluid your body retains. Too much fluid can not only lead to feet swelling, but also inner-ear swelling, which can cause dizziness.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks. Dizziness and alcohol intoxication are the worst combination. It’s an accident waiting to happen.
- Consider taking anti-dizziness medicines like meclizine 25 mg tablets (Brand name Dizitab o Bonamine).
- Drink a ginger mixture (salabat) as a natural remedy. Combine ginger, honey and warm water. This is a very effective treatment for dizziness. In fact, studies show that ginger solutions are as effective as drugs.
- Avoid texting while walking. A patient of mine was busy texting on his way down the stairs. Well, when he woke up, he was already in the MRI room of a hospital. The patient fell and lost consciousness. Luckily, he survived with just a broken elbow.
- Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water. If you are dehydrated, your blood pressure could also drop, causing dizziness.
- Sleep 7 to 8 hours a day. Lack of sleep is a common cause of unsteadiness during the day.
- Limit stress and relax. A nervous person often feels dizzy for no reason. Try to relax by taking slow and deep breaths several times during the day. Try to imagine that you’re in a peaceful environment.
- Pinch the skin between your eyebrows. This technique sometimes works for dizziness and headaches. Try it. This skin area is a known acupressure point.
- Check your medicines. Some medicines, like aspirin, blood pressure medicines and diabetes drugs, may sometimes cause dizziness. Ask your doctor about it.
When should you consult a doctor?
There are some instances when dizziness can have a serious cause. If your blood pressure is higher than 140 over 90, you can become dizzy and experience nape pains. If your blood pressure is too low, less than 90 over 60, this is likewise a dangerous cause of dizziness. See a doctor immediately.
If you have irregular heartbeat, weakness, numbness or severe headaches, you should consult a doctor. Strokes and brain tumors can also bring about dizziness.
Learn more about dizziness, and you’ll be better prepared to handle them in the future. Good luck!