Living With Anxiety Newsletter
I hope the holiday season is bringing peace, joy, and love to you and your family. I know this is a very busy time of the year, with shopping, traveling, cooking, and so on, but remember to take time to relax and take care of yourself. Make sure to eat well in between shopping and get plenty of sleep. I promise everything will still workout.
This Month: Dizziness and Lightheadedness
This month I wanted to write about dizziness and lightheadedness. I have had many folks ask me questions about this particular symptom. Most commonly asking if it is anxiety related or is it caused by another illness. Lightheadedness was one of my worst physical symptoms of anxiety, so I know how uncomfortable and scary it is.
So, I have wrote some great information for you to read and learn from. I will go over eleven possible causes of dizziness, and explain a little about it. Hopefully, reading this will help you determine what is normal and what is not.
Why am I dizzy?
Is it hunger, hormones, or something scary? There are several ways a person can feel dizzy. The first thought is usually that they have something seriously wrong with them. In most cases a major illness is not the cause. In fact only 5% of people who suffer from lightheadedness or dizziness have a serious illness.
Some people experience lightheadedness and dizziness when bending down, and then standing up to quickly. Maybe even seeing stars. Lightheadedness can also just be a sign that a person needs to slow down, have a snack, or cool down. Some people have even reported that they have blacked out just getting out of bed to fast. Walking long distances on a very hot day can make a person feel dizzy, and make one feel faint.
Dizziness and lightheadedness is the cause of over 5 million Americans to visit their doctor every year. There are more reports of women who have dizziness then men.
Although many feel similar discomfort and fear, the cause may be different in every case.
There are several disorders related to dizziness. Some dizziness is called lightheadedness which is caused by sudden changes of blood flow to the brain. Another term is vertigo, which is a false sense of motion. This motion can make you feel as if the world is spinning around you. Usually, people who have vertigo also have nausea and vomiting. If a person has vertigo there could be a problem with very tiny filled canals, hair cells, or nerve cells found in the inner ear.
If a person is unable to do everyday tasks, because of dizziness or lightheadedness they should get medical attention right away. If you feel dizzy for only a few minutes it may be a sign of a serious problem. Or if you have spurts of dizziness over the course of several days you should seek the expertise of a doctor.
If it is getting to the point where you feel dizzy while driving, or taking care of children, this could be dangerous to yourself or others, and you should see a doctor right away. Most of the time your doctor can treat you. In fact 80% of folks who have dizziness find help with their primary doctor. If your doctor sends you to an ear specialist, have no fear of something horrible. The outcome is usually very good. Dizziness is treatable, and can be eliminated all together, or at minium, manageable.
So you may be wondering. What are the major causes of dizziness? And how are they treated?
11 Causes of Dizziness:
- Stress is one of the number one causes of dizziness. Over half the cases reported stress is the cause. When a person feels stressed most start to hyperventilate, which is caused by taking short shallow breaths. Taking breaths like this causes the arteries to contract. This means that less blood reaches the brain and other parts of the body. So not only do you feel dizzy, but a person can feel numbness in fingers and toes. If you have went to the doctor, and he has ruled out all physical problems, you can try breathing techniques to help control or stop attacks.
- Skipping Meals
- If you have a habit of skipping meals, or you are having a busy day, and haven't ate much for hours, you are causing your sugar levels to drop in your blood. Just a small decline in these levels can make a person lightheaded. The fight or flight response that people feel when hunger emerges, kicks in, which causes a person to feel shaky and dizzy. The best way to avoid low blood sugar is a good diet. Trying carbs along with lean protein meals can help.
- Standing Up Too Quickly
- A person who experiences black outs for a second or two after jumping out of bed, or standing up to quickly may have what's called Orthostatic Hypotension. A condition that causes the blood to pool in the legs, making the blood take longer to get to your brain when you suddenly get up. If you already have low blood pressure this can make you more apt to get this condition. Also, a person who is thinner and or tall can be more prone to get it. Dehydration can make this problem worse, therefore, drinking at least eight glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration can help you to feel better in cases where this condition exists.
- Hormonal Changes
- Women often feel dizzy right before having a period or sometimes during pregnancy, and around perimenopause. Experts believe that some of the reason for this is because the inner ear is sensitive to the ebb and flow of estrogen. Women who are borderline, already have or have had problems in the past with feelings of being off balance, hormonal changes can make things worse. Drinking lots of fluids and eating small meals frequently may help low blood sugar or dehydration from aggravating dizziness and lightheadedness that is set off by hormonal changes.
- There are about 20% of women who are premenopausal who suffer with Anemia. Anemia is a period of decreased hemoglobin count that could indicate an iron deficiency. When this happens the blood can't send enough oxygen to the brain, causing a person to feel lightheaded. Taking iron supplements usually can solve the problem. If taking supplements it is best to be under a doctors care so he can supervise the amount of iron and supplements your body needs.
- Migraine Headaches
- Migraines effect nearly 15% of the population in the United States. In some cases the person will also have vertigo. Frequently doctors fail to associate the two, because only one in four migraine patients report serious dizziness, the dizzy spells may not be accompanied with headaches. Antidepressants, beta blockers, and calcium channel blockers may be used to help migraine headaches, and may also respond to migraine related dizziness.
- Thyroid Disease
- Over 10% of women 50 years of age have symptoms of a thyroid dysfunction. It is called Hypothyroidism, and it can cause weight gain or weight loss, and some depression. The inner ear is very sensitive to the thyroid hormone, these fluctuations can cause dizziness. Talking with your doctor to find ways to control thyroid dysfunction, for instance with medication, usually takes care of the problem.
- Drug Reactions
- Almost all medication, non prescription or prescription, have some side effects, which can cause dizziness. Some of these medications include, medication that lowers blood pressure, and anxiety medication like Prozac. Also, sedatives, decongestants, and antihistamines. If you are feeling dizzy, your doctor may ask you to stop taking these medications for a couple days. If the dizziness returns, your doctor may want to reduce your dose or even change the medication your taking.
- Anxiety Disorders
- Doctors once thought that hyperventilation led to lightheadedness, dizziness, or vertigo that generally comes with a panic attack. Recently, new research shows that as many as 40% of people who suffer with anxiety attacks have an inner ear abnormality. This means in some it could be the reason for the dizziness. In most it is set off by vision. Like being in a busy chaotic situation, like a restaurant, grocery store, or shopping mall, which is what causes a panic attack. Because dizziness may be very difficult to understand, it may be a good start for anxiety suffers to seek the help of a inner ear specialist for an evaluation. Treatment may also include taking a anxiety medication.
- Benign Positional Vertigo
- A person who has short episodes of intense spinning sensations when looking up or even rolling over in bed, may have BVP. This is a condition that causes small calcium carbonate crystals to become out of position from the central portion of the inner ear, where it floats about in the semi circular canals, bouncing on nerve cells and making them fire the wrong signals to the brain.
- Because of hormonal factors women develop this condition more frequently then men. The way women process calcium could also be a factor. A women 40 years old has a 1 - 3 % chance of getting BVP. The risk is higher the older she gets. For women who are postmenopausal BVP is the leading cause of dizziness. Thankfully the treatment for BVP is very easy. Your doctor or a physical therapist can perform a maneuver to reposition crystals in the inner ear. By applying different swift head motions it can shift the crystals to a pocket in the inner ear that is less sensitive, and will later dissolve.
- Extra Fluid In The Inner Ear
- A disease called Menieres causes fluid buildup in the inner ear. This condition causes recurrent and severe vertigo, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears. These symptoms unfortunately may come and go for many years. Menieres Disease effects 100,000 people in the United States every year. This condition is more common in women then men. Even though there is no cure for this disease, a good low sodium diet can help confine attacks. Symptoms sometimes disappear rather quickly.
I hope you have found this months newsletter beneficial, and I have answered some of your questions about lightheadedness and dizziness. Remember if you have symptoms of dizziness talk to your doctor right away, even if you think you know what is causing it. God bless, and have a safe holiday.
If you have an idea or topic you would like to see appear in the January LWA newsletter, please drop me an email to nashell at livingwithanxiety dot com
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,