There are many different types of dizziness that people may experience. How the patient describes their dizziness can vary immensely. Some say they feel like the room is spinning. They may feel as if they are spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. Many describe it as a feeling of being pulled in certain directions or as if they were rocking on a boat. Some feel like the floor is moving. Oftentimes people cannot even describe their dizziness but they just feel off, have bad equilibrium, poor balance, or have difficulty with walking or turning.
I am going to review the most common types of dizziness that I help my patients with. The good news is that if you suffer from any of these conditions, by improving the function of your brain, you can reduce any of these symptoms and improve the quality of your life, and you can do all of this without medication.
The most common type of dizziness is called BPPV. When this occurs, a person will feel like the room is spinning, which is called vertigo, and it usually occurs when they turn over in bed. It typically only lasts for a very short period of time, but it is really intense. Now, even though it is intense, it is also the easiest type of vertigo to fix. Most doctors will perform an Epley Maneuver in the office and it is usually fixed in just one visit if it is done properly. This is where the doctor lays the patient on their back, positions the head at a certain angle, which moves certain crystals in the inner ear so they go into a place that does not create the dizziness anymore. This condition is not dangerous because it does not harm people, but it is very scary.
Another condition that causes vertigo but is a lot more rare than BPPV is called Meniere’s disease. This usually starts in one ear and the patient may have low tone hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and an increase in ear pressure that accompanies the vertigo. Reducing salt in the diet, avoiding caffeine and quitting smoking helps a lot if you have Meniere’s disease.
In addition to BPPV and Meniere’s disease, another condition that causes people to be dizzy or lightheaded is called vasovagal syncope. This is where someone does not get enough oxygen into the brain and they get so lightheaded that they may even pass out. It can become really dangerous because they may hit their head. For vasovagal syncope, or lightheadedness, it is best to see a functional neurologist who can work on improving blood flow to the brain by performing brain exercises.
There is another common condition called POTS that can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. With POTS, the person will get lightheaded if they get up too quickly or swing up their heads quickly. In a normal functioning person, when you get up quickly, the blood pressure increases to push the blood and oxygen into the brain. However, when the body is not functioning properly, the heart rate goes up really high to try and get more blood flow into the brain. Both POTS and vasovagal syncope usually cause lightheadedness in the standing or walking position, while BPPV usually causes vertigo in bed while turning over.
It is important to also be aware that dizziness can be a side effect of medication, especially high blood pressure medication. If you have dizziness as a result of medication, talk to your medical doctor and see if there is another option that does create as many side effects. Also your medical doctor may suggest further imaging to rule out a brain tumor such as an acoustic neuroma which can also cause dizziness.
Sometimes dizziness is not related to a brain lesion or a side effect of medication, but can be from a condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is sort of like the opposite of diabetes. Instead of your blood sugar being too high like in diabetes, the blood sugar is too low. To prevent dizziness from hypoglycemia, it is important to eat frequently. You never want to go more than two hours without eating, even if it is just a piece of fruit, a carrot, or some nuts.
Many times a brain injury from a concussion, a car accident, stroke, and even Covid-19 can also cause dizziness. A lot of times, these patients are diagnosed by their medical doctors with vestibular migraines. In our office, we have been noticing that these types of patients who are doing hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, neurofeedback, and the infrared laser, in conjunction with functional neurology have been improving their brain function and improving their quality of life by preventing dizziness.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so I am also going to review some basic home remedies to prevent dizziness. When you get up in the morning, sit up on your bed and count to 10 before standing. When you stand up, count to 10 before walking. If you get up in the middle of the night, turn on the lights to help prevent falls or bumping into things. If you have to pick something up off the ground, squat and keep your head straight instead of bending over. Take things slowly like turning your head, or turning over in bed, or getting up. Sometimes dizziness can be caused by an infection. If there is inflammation that is aggravating your dizziness, natural anti-inflammatories like resveratrol or turmeric may help reduce symptoms.
Dizziness and vertigo are very complicated so it is important to see a doctor to properly diagnose your condition. By analyzing your eyes, ears, balance, gait, posture, reflexes, muscles, most doctors are able to diagnose which condition is causing your dizziness.