Dizziness refers to lightheadedness, i.e., a feeling that one might faint and vertigo i.e., a feeling that one is spinning or moving around or the things around him are spinning. These sensations may make one lose their balance.
SYMPTOMS OF DIZZINESS
Dizziness is described in many different ways such as:-
- A false feeling of spinning or movement.
- Faint feeling
- Sensation as if floating, heavy headedness, or wooziness.
These sensations may last for a few seconds or remain constant for days and may even recur. Walking, standing, or sudden movement of the head may trigger these feelings and may compel the person to sit or lie down. Dizziness can occur at any age but is more commonly seen in older people. This is one of the main reasons why older people tend to fall more often than younger people.
Dizziness is considered a medical emergency if it is associated with any of the symptoms such as severe and sudden headache, chest pain, breathing difficulty, paralysis of arms or legs, fainting, double vision, irregular or rapid heart beat, confused or slurred speech, difficulty in walking, excessive vomiting, seizures, sudden changes in hearing, facial muscle weakness or numbness.
CAUSES OF DIZZINESS
The causes of dizziness include:-
1. Vertigo due to inner ear disorders- our sense of balance depends on coordinated input from various components of the sensory system which includes:-
- Eyes- They help to determine the position of the body and how the body is moving.
- Sensory nerves- They send information to the brain about body position and movements.
- Inner ear- They help to detect gravity and to and fro motion with the help of sensors.
In inner ear disorders, the information sent to the brain from ears is not consistent with the signals the brain receives from the eyes and the sensory nerves. This gives rise to the sensation of vertigo.
Vertigo may occur due to:-
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo- Vertigo due to sudden movement of the head. This, in turn, results from a head injury or in old age.
- Labyrinthitis – Viral infection of the inner ear, usually following flu or cold.
- Meniere disease- It is a disorder of the inner ear due to excessive build-up of fluid. It usually occurs between 40-60 years of age. Apart from vertigo, it includes symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in the ear, nausea and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Meniere’s disease usually affects one ear only.
- Migraine – People who have a tendency for migraine may have dizziness even without severe headache.
2. Circulatory disorders that cause dizziness- In this dizziness results when the blood supply to the brain is not adequate. This may occur due to:-
- Low blood pressure- Sudden drop in systolic blood pressure due to sitting up or standing too rapidly.
- Poor blood circulation- Due to cardiac disorders such as heart attack, cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat and transient ischemic attack can cause dizziness. Similarly, dip in blood volume may result in dizziness.
3. Other causes of dizziness include:-
- Neurological conditions- Such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
- Medications- Such as antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, sedatives and tranquilizers and especially antihypertensives if they lead to abnormally low blood pressure.
- Anxiety disorders- Certain anxiety disorders such as panic attack and agoraphobia or fear of being in large and open spaces
- Anemia or low iron level- In this dizziness is associated with other symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and pale skin.
- Low blood sugar- This is associated with anxiety and increased sweating and generally occurs in diabetic people who are on insulin
- Overheating and dehydration- If one is active in hot weather or does not take enough fluids, one may feel dizzy due to overheating or dehydration.
RISK FACTORS OF DIZZINESS
There are certain factors that increase the risk of getting dizziness. These include the following:-
- Age-Old people tend to have medical conditions that increase the risk of developing dizziness and a sense of imbalance. Also, they tend to take a lot of medications due to various age-related disorders that further increase the risk of getting dizzy.
- Past history of dizziness- If one had any experience of dizziness before, he/she is more likely to feel dizziness in the future.
COMPLICATIONS OF DIZZINESS
Dizziness can cause serious complications if not treated properly. Dizziness and a sense of imbalance increase the chances of falling and hurting oneself. If one gets an episode of dizziness while driving or handling some heavy machinery, he/she is more likely to meet an accident. Also, if the underlying medical conditions that are causing dizziness are left untreated, they may lead to other serious consequences.
DIAGNOSIS OF DIZZINESS
Usually, several tests are required to diagnose dizziness. The tests conducted to diagnose dizziness include the following:-
-Electronystagmography (ENG) and videonystagmography (VNG) tests- These tests measure and record eye movements, which are essential to have the right balance.
– Rotary tests or rotary chair test- This test to diagnose dizziness is also based on the measurement of eye movements.
– Posturography or computerized dynamic posturography (CDP)- This test is based on the measurement of one’s ability to maintain the state of balance while standing.
– Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials test(VEMP)- This test is based on measuring how certain muscles react to sound. It can detect if there is any problem in the inner ear.
– Dix hall pike maneuver- This test is based on measuring how the eyes react to sudden movements.
– Hearing tests- Since many cases of dizziness are due to problems in the inner ear, one may undergo one or more hearing tests to diagnose the cause of dizziness.
MANAGEMENT OF DIZZINESS
Following are a few management tips to cope with dizziness:-
- Use cane whenever possible
- Don’t travel by air if one is having sinuses or ears infection.
- Don’t read while traveling in a vehicle such as a car, bus, or train.
- Wear sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim if one is sensitive to light.
- While eating out in a restaurant, avoid rush hours, or a place where there is loud music or shiny surfaces.
- Occupy the corner seat in a restaurant rather than the middle.
- Take a seat away from the kitchen or cash counters where there is more noise.
- To avoid much head movement during a conversation, sit at the head of the table, or prefer a round table if possible.
- Sit in a chair and avoid benches to avoid movement caused by those sitting next to you.
- Avoid fluorescent light, which often leads to visual difficulty. Sit with back to the light.
- Put off the flickering candles, if any, on the table, which can be visually distracting.
- Take meals and water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Avoid high salt or sugar intake.
- Avoid smoking, stress and chocolates, coffee, alcohol and other such food items that can trigger a migraine.
- For students – They can use noise-canceling headphones for better concentration, studying in a quiet area like a library, use a computer monitor with less flickering, adjust the height of desk and chair for better support.
HOMEOPATHY FOR DIZZINESS
In most cases, the underlying cause of dizziness is not serious; as a result, it either gets better by itself or responds easily to treatment. If one tends to be dizzy constantly or often if the dizziness is accompanied by severe symptoms as mentioned above, one should seek medical help.
Homeopathy has a great role to play in the treatment of dizziness. Homeopathic treatment for dizziness is not only effective and prevents relapse of the condition but is also safe and without any side effects. Best homeopathic medicine for dizziness is the one most similar to disease manifestation, which is elicited from both mental and physical spheres by a trained homeopathic physician.
Common dizziness medicines are:-
BELLADONNA- It is indicated when with vertigo, there is a sensation of falling backward or to the left side. There may be an associated headache with much throbbing and heat in the head. This headache is worse in the afternoon, from least noise or light, lying down, jar and better by pressure and sitting in semi-erect posture.
BRYONIA ALBA- It is indicated when vertigo recurs with the least movement of eyes or head and gets better when the head is in the perfect state of rest.
COCCULUS- It is indicated when with vertigo, there is nausea, especially when one is riding in a carriage or sitting up and headache in occiput, which gets worse on lying on the back part of the head.
CONIUM MACULATUM- It is indicated when vertigo is on lying down or turning head in bed or even turning eyes, especially towards the left. It is especially suited for vertigo in older people.
GELSIMIUM SEMPERVIRENS- It is indicated when associated with vertigo, there are dim vision and drooping of eyelids. There may be loss of muscular control with excessive trembling and weakness of all limbs.
PULSATILLA NIGRICANS- It is especially indicated for vertigo in women who get aggravated due to suppressed or delayed periods. This vertigo tends to get better in the open and fresh air.