Dizziness is a blanket term used to describe the sensation of unsteadiness. Patients may feel weak, faint, or have the perception that their surroundings are moving. Dizziness is also a common symptom that can be the result of many different underlying causes.
A person experiencing dizziness will describe different sensations, depending on the cause. Some many experience the feeling of near fainting or lightheadedness while others experience a loss of equilibrium. Other patients feel confused, disoriented or have the sensation of floating.
Dizziness occurs whenever the brain receives false signals from the body’s balance and sensory systems; these can originate from the inner ear, eyes or sensory nerves. The brain senses movement that is not occurring, making patients feel dizzy. One of the most common causes is low blood pressure; when this occurs, the brain isn’t receiving enough oxygen-rich blood, limiting its functionality. Anemia, bleeding, dehydration, heat-related disorders and certain medications (i.e. beta blockers or nitroglycerin) can all lead to low blood pressure.
Other conditions that may lead to bouts of dizziness include hypotension (a lack of blood to the head when rising from a lying position), high blood pressure, diseases of the endocrine system (diabetes, thyroid disease and Addison’s disease), hyperventilation, heart conditions and overstimulation of the vagus nerve.
When considering treatment for dizziness, patients should remember that it is a symptom and not a disease. The underlying cause must be targeted in order to receive proper treatment. With such a large number of potential triggers, a physical examination and specialized diagnostic testing are needed in order to properly diagnose the cause. Medication, physical and occupational therapy, vestibular rehabilitation, surgery and lifestyle modifications are all possible treatment choices, depending on the underlying condition.
Call Southern Utah Ear, Nose, Throat, Allergy, and Facial Plastics at (435) 628-3334 for more information or to schedule an appointment.