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Dizziness and lightheadedness are not the same, even though a lot of people mistake them when describing their symptoms to physicians. The latter might result from common habits that you can easily change, but dizziness can also indicate other underlying conditions.
Today at Bright Side we’d like to create awareness about some simple symptoms that can help you understand what’s happening to your body. Don’t miss out on the bonus at the end of the article where you’ll find out the difference between vertigo and lightheadedness!
Sometimes the solution to the greatest problems is just a glass of water. Dehydration or overheating can decrease your blood’s volume. This makes circulation harder, meaning that your brain gets less oxygen. How to fix it: Drink enough water, especially if you’re sick. When to see a doctor? If you’ve had about 2 liters of water and still feel dizzy you might have an underlying condition.
Anxiety is a very common state, whether we realize it or not, and one of the symptoms can be lightheadedness or even dizziness. Our body reacts by hyperventilating and if the feeling doesn’t go away, a small rush of adrenaline can spark lightheadedness when it reaches your brain. How to fix it: Try breathing in and out normally and find a place to sit. When to see a doctor? If your anxiety becomes unmanageable, you might be suffering from a panic attack. Then you absolutely have to ask for help.
Your inner ear is responsible for controlling your balance. When dust, pet dander, pollen, or other allergens enter your system, they can cause obstructions or inflammation in the middle ear to which your body might respond by regulating your blood pressure, which can cause lightheadedness. How to fix it: Consider a change of diet if you’re allergic to certain foods, or avoid certain types of flowers and animals if you’re not under treatment. When to see a doctor? It is good to go to an allergist to get treatment and find out if you have any new allergies.
People over 50 years old start experiencing changes in their inner ear. This normal physiological change can lead to lightheadedness when standing up after sleeping in the wrong position. How to fix it: Try getting up slowly. When to see a doctor? If the feeling persists after a few minutes or if it happens regularly.
5. Low blood sugar
If you skip meals often or if you suffer from diabetes you might not have enough sugar in your blood. Your body then uses its reserves and your brain gets less energy, which can make you feel lightheaded, since the energy left is distributed among all the necessary organs. Diabetes can also cause inner ear problems, which can lead to lightheadedness as well. How to fix it: Drink orange juice, eat, or regulate your insulin better. When to see a doctor? If after eating your symptoms persist, you might need to consult a physician.
Sports that involve cardiovascular exercise make your heart pump slower with time, which is good, but it can sometimes lead to lightheadedness when abruptly changing position. How to fix it: Try a longer cool-down routine and walk slowly after playing sports, especially if you’re feeling lightheaded. When to see a doctor? When the feeling persists, without relief, after sitting down or if it happens suddenly when you’re not playing sports.
7. Drug side effects
Every medication has some kind of side effect, lightheadedness is often mentioned as one of them. Diuretics typically cause this. How to fix it: Read the drug’s information sheet, drink enough water, and eat well during treatment. When to see a doctor? Always. Make a list of your symptoms and let your doctor know, they might need to adjust your dosage.
8. Low blood pressure
Most cases of lightheadedness are due to low blood pressure in one way or another. A deterioration in the part of our nervous system that regulates blood pressure can inflict sudden drops, which in turn can cause lightheadedness. How to fix it: It happens with age, you need to pay attention to your symptoms to avoid falling. When to see a doctor? If you experience it often, it is better to get it checked regularly. You might need medication.
9. Heart attack and stroke
Lightheadedness, if accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and arm pain can be indicative of a stroke. In older adults, it might come without the rest of the symptoms and still indicate a coming stroke or heart attack if it doesn’t go away. How to fix it: Have an aspirin or any other blood thinner and call emergency services. When to see a doctor? Always, if you suspect you’re having a heart attack or stroke.
Bonus: Lightheadedness vs Vertigo
Lightheadedness is the feeling that comes, for example, when you stand up too fast after waking up. It is different than dizziness, whose actual name is vertigo, which feels more like the room is spinning or as if you are moving while standing still. Vertigo always needs medical attention, as it might indicate anemia, Ménière’s disease, Parkinson’s, or the formation of crystals in the inner ear.
Have you ever experienced lightheadedness or vertigo? Let us know in the comments if you have any other recommendations that could help our readers feel better in those cases!
Illustrated by Polina Chernevina for BrightSide.me