Dizziness - Vertigo - Giddiness

Feelings of imbalance and movement of the surroundings. Symptoms can be nausea and vomiting. The organ of balance and orientation in space (the cortic organ) is located in the inner ear. Dizziness and nausea may originate from here.

There are many kinds of dizziness, and as dizziness is a symptom, it is always important to seek for the cause instead of just treating the symptom. Dizziness is elicited in the cerebellum where both visual and auditive sensations plus pressure points under the skin work together to form knowledge of where the body is located in space.

With age, these sensations can be weakened. The vision might not be so good anymore and the hearing neither. The nerve signals from pressure points under the feet and from the hands also might not be so strong when using a walking stick or a rollator. The cerebellum will then become uncertain and dizziness signals are being transmitted. The cerebellum itself can also be diseased. Dizziness most often occurs in elderly people.

Dizziness presents itself as a feeling of imbalance, a feeling of turning round while everything around you stands still or a feeling of everything around you spinning while you yourself are standing still. Attacks of dizziness can be mild or severe and they can result in loss of balance and even fainting.

Lack of liquid, stress, low blood sugar, and metabolic problems such as thyroid gland sufferings can be causes of dizziness. Atherosclerosis of the arteries of the brain also can cause dizziness. This is typically seen when the artery to the posterior part of the brain and cerebellum is calcified or compressed as a result of calcification of the cervical spine through which the artery runs. The dizziness typically appears when looking upwards.

Side effects of medicine are another frequent cause of dizziness. Many people suffer from dizziness caused by analgesics - especially morphine and nerve- and sleeping medicine but also medicin for heart- and circulatory diseases, rheumatic diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases, etc. can have dizziness as a side effect.

In combination with the dizziness, balance disturbances, nausea, and sometimes vomiting can occur. In these cases, the cause can often be found in the inner ear.

In case of a special type of dizziness which occurs when changing position, laying down, or turning in your bed there might be a displacement of the so-called otoliths, a kind of remnants or crystals lying in the inner ear pressing different cells according to the position you are in; lying on one side or the other, standing, or being upside down. If the otoliths have been displaced, wrong signals are being transmitted to the cerebellum and it reacts with signals of dizziness.

The dizziness attacks also occur in case of an infection of the inner ear or in Ménière's disease.

Recommendations

General advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for healthy as well as for ill ones" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".

Make sure to drink plenty of liquid - preferably 1½ - 2 litres a day. Avoid stress and make sure to have a stable blood sugar by eating a blood sugar balancing diet and avoiding too much sugar.

In case of a dizziness attack, the best precaution is to immediately sit or lie down until the dizziness has passed.

If you have problems with your otoliths, you can bring them back in their right place by going through a number of changes in position:
First, you shall sit straight up, then lie down on your back for two minutes with your head turned to the right out over the edge of the bed (with your right ear downwards). This position often will provoke dizziness.

You now turn to lie on your stomach and tilt your head to the opposite side (left) and your nose at a 45 degree angle proportional to the floor for the nex two minutes (right ear downwards).

After this, you shall sit up straight and must not lie down for the next 48 hours. You must sit up and sleep, but the back of the chair must not be tilted more than 45 degrees.
This instruction must be thoroughly followed - if it is not, then you will risk that your otoliths move to other places in the organ of equilibrium and the dizziness will continue, only in other changes in position than before.

If the symptoms return, the procedure must be repeated. This program only helps if you suffer from dizziness as a result of changes in position. You can also treat this type of dizziness with vibrations, but this is done in the ear, nose, and throat department at a hospital.

The inner ear contains the organ of equilibrium and if this becomes calcified or in some way diseased, it can result in dizziness. If you sit often without using your balancing ability, you will tend to be more dizzy when walking or doing other things.

Exercising is a good way of training you balance and preventing dizziness. In this case, any kind of exercise is beneficial, but dancing is particularly good since you can lean towards someone else with a good balance and thereby enhance your own balance.

It is important to use a stick or an umbrella as in this way information from both your feet and your hand as to where in space you are located is being transmitted to the cerebellum.

Ginkgo biloba can improve the microcirculation - also in the inner ear and in the brain.

Other beneficial herbs are:
  • Box thorn, Lycium chinense, has a strengthening effect and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which controls bodily functions and relieves dizziness.
  • Self-heal, Prunella vulgaris, is effective against confusion and dizziness - especially in combination with Garden mum, Chrysanthemum X morifolium.
  • Garden mum, Chrysanthemum X morifolium, is beneficial against dizziness.
  • Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, which stimulates the flow of blood to the head, has a good effect on dizziness (vertigo) and on the tendency to faint. The herb is used for general weakening and for poor circulation.

Warnings

If you suffer from sustained dizziness, you should be examined by a doctor who can measure your blood pressure or refer you to an otologist and/or a neurologist.

If you suffer from dizziness when driving a car it is reason enough for not driving. If the dizziness occurs only when walking or working and you are otherwise fully capable of controlling the car, breaking with a normal reactivity, etc. there should be no reason why you cannot continue to drive. It is recommended to discuss this problem with your doctor.

Remarks

Also see "Cardiovascular diseases", "Hypothyroidism", "Inflammation in general", "Low blood sugar", "Ménière's disease, syndrome", "Nausea - Sickness", and "Stress".

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