Dizziness is one of those things that if you’ve dealt with it, it was probably one of the most unpleasant experiences of your entire life. Maybe it’s something you experience on a daily basis and you know the feeling all too well.
● You get up in the morning and as you start walking down the hall, you’re bumping into things, tripping over your feet, and are the self-described clumsy person in the family.
● Maybe every time you stand up, you have to hold onto something because if you start moving too fast, you’re going to run into something and fall.
● Perhaps you’re a passenger in a car and after a 30 minute or a two hour drive, you get out and you just feel off and have a headache, brain fog, fatigue and just feel things are off balance.
These are all different things that people experience with dizziness.
What exactly is dizziness?
Dizziness is more of a sensation and depending on whoever you talk to, the sensation may be a little bit different.
For some people, it’s the sensation of the world moving side to side or the ground seeming unstable and uneven. For others, it can be a shifting forward and back or it can even be a rocking forward and back.
There are others who will describe it as a rotational based sensation. Typically it’s going to be the world rotating around them, but it can also be them spinning around the world. Now, the world spinning around you or you spinning around the world is not truly dizziness, this is actually vertigo. But, we’re going to combine these because most people consider dizziness and vertigo the same thing when they’re talking about it, even though from a medical standpoint they are different and tell us something completely different.
Before we go into the five causes of dizziness, we’re going to take a step back and say, ultimately, dizziness is where information is not received and interpreted appropriately within the brain leading to this sensation of dizziness.
The main inputs into the brain to not have dizziness are:
● information from your feet, so your muscles and your joints.
● information from your neck
● information from your eyes
● information from your vestibular system. Now, when people talk about the vestibular system, normally they think just about the inner ears, but there’s so much more than that, as there is a more midline component in the brainstem
So, if all these areas are not taking in information correctly, dizziness is going to be present and you may not get the results you want with some types of treatments. This is why we see so many patients frustrated by the time they come to our office.
Five Causes Of Dizziness
1. Thyroid. Your thyroid is responsible for telling your cells here’s the rate at which we want you to function. The thyroid does this by releasing thyroid hormones such as T4 and T3. When a lower amount of thyroid hormones are produced this is like the manager no longer saying we have to be this productive, which ultimately means things are not done at the rate it should. When cells do not function at the rate they should, this ultimately prevents them from doing their job right. This can impact anywhere in the body including the brain and it can lead to dizziness, which is why dizziness is a symptom of a low thyroid.
A few other symptoms of low thyroid are:
● Brain fog
2. Adrenal Dysfunction. With adrenal dysfunction, you’ll typically notice that as the day goes on, you will feel worse:
● You’ll get a headache in the afternoon
● When you attempt to sleep at night, your mind is racing
● May have salt cravings
● When you stand up, you’ll often have to grab something to hold on to and will give yourself 10 to 20 seconds for things to stabilize. Once you stabilize, then you can finally start moving.
If you have never heard about the adrenals, you may be wondering what exactly are they?
The adrenals are little glands and structures that are right behind the kidneys. Their job, among many things, is to produce cortisol, aldosterone, and sex hormones.
Aldosterone tells you to maintain sodium-potassium balance, it’s mostly going to keep sodium to increase blood pressure.
Cortisol, on the other hand, is used for many different things but one of the functions is to break down stored forms of energy into glucose which your cells use for energy to function appropriately.
When your adrenals are off, you can have dizziness as a result in addition to the other symptoms mentioned above.
3. Having Blood Sugar Based Issues. Generally this is going to be low blood sugar, but it can also be elevated blood sugar. So for example, if you were to go to the emergency room with dizziness, they’re going to check your blood sugar. If it’s low, they’re going to say, oh that’s why you’ve got dizziness, because once again, your cells don’t have what they need to function appropriately which can give you dizziness.
Typically with low blood sugar, you’re also going to have:
● Tremors or shakiness
● Anxiety or irritability
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have too high of blood sugar, this can make you:
● Brain fog
● Energy swings when you eat compared to not eating
Too much blood glucose or rapid swings in glucose are harmful and highly inflammatory, which ultimately impacts how the body functions and the brain connects.
4. Medications. As with many medications we take, there’s always a trade off. There’s really no medication you can take where you can only get the good from it and not have any side effects from it.
There are a variety of medications that can create feelings of dizziness, and I’m going to focus on a few different ones:
● Beta blockers.
● Calcium channel blockers
● Antihypertensives for blood pressure.
● Certain nausea medications
All of these medications can be used for blood pressure except for the nausea medications. If your blood pressure is lower than it should be, then the parts of your brain that need it aren’t getting enough blood flow and oxygen which now leads to feelings of dizziness that many people suffer from.
While there are those that get it just from one medication, many of the individuals that do have dizziness are actually on a couple of these medications at a time. So you’re getting a compounded effect and it may be hard to identify exactly which medication is causing it.
Honestly, if medications are the cause of your dizziness, don’t waste your money trying to get your dizziness fixed until you find a way to get off those medications. For some, it isn’t possible and you try the best you can to fix your dizziness despite the medications.
Don’t worry, it is possible to improve dizziness if medications are causing it but the preferred method is to address the causes of elevated blood pressure instead of treating side effects.
5. The Brain. As I said, dizziness is ultimately an issue with how the brain takes in information. The thyroid, the adrenals, blood sugar, and medications can also impact the function of your brain cells leading to dizziness.
Let’s go to the brain as a whole. There really is a laundry list of things that can create dizziness within the brain and different labels may be given, such as:
● Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
● Mal de Débarquement syndrome
● Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
I really want to step back because these are all different labels that are given, but it ultimately means that sensory information coming from your eyes, inner ears, and even more midline in your vestibular system, neck and feet are creating confusion in your brain.
The key is to figure out which one of these systems isn’t doing its job right and when that is addressed, then you can expect your dizziness to actually improve.
Up to this point, we’ve covered five different causes of dizziness with different factors to consider for each one.
What are some tips and what should you actually look for in care?
While these are five common causes of dizziness, there are many other things that can cause dizziness.
Like I said, even a thyroid based issue can impact, and ultimately, set you up for these weaknesses in certain parts of your brain leading to dizziness. Getting the dizziness treated may be just getting your thyroid back on track. But for others that’s not going to be sufficient. You not only need to get your thyroid back on track, but you need to rehab parts of the brain that are inherently weak and are failing when the thyroid’s not as optimal as it should be.
So, for this reason, you really want to find someone who’s going to evaluate you as a whole person. Someone who’s going to be able to integrate in lab work as well as looking at brain function for most of the causes of dizziness and vertigo.
MRIs and CT scans aren’t going to be of much value unless there’s a stroke, tumor or something like that which has caused the dizziness. Outside of that, most of the time the imaging will be normal.
If you don’t receive a comprehensive evaluation, you may get some improvement if only one of those factors are addressed. We will tell you having worked with many patients with dizziness over the years, the harder cases never get better when a one dimensional approach is used.
Being evaluated and treated as a whole person is the key to getting new results that you previously couldn’t get. It doesn’t matter if you received part of the care before, because it is different when it is combined with everything else.
Imagine watching a football game where the receiver runs the perfect route, but the line and quarterback don’t do their jobs right, what happens? Now what happens when all three do their job right? The chance for a positive play is so much greater as all parts were done correctly.
Because you are still reading, you’re probably finally ready to beat this dizziness and to stop having a life where you’re worried about tripping, falling and bumping into walls. You’re tired of not going on trips because you just feel so bad with headaches and nausea when you’re in the car, let us know. We are here to help!
Request your free health strategy session with my team today.