Doctors speak of true (vestibular) vertigo, or vertigo, when it seems to the patient that he or his surroundings are moving or rotating. A feeling of cloudiness or lightheadedness in the head is considered to be non-specific symptoms.
In most cases, dizziness in itself is not a health hazard. Unless, because of them, you can stumble, fall and get injured, and this is especially dangerous for the elderly.
But dizziness is not an independent disease, but a symptom that can accompany more than 80 physiological conditions and diseases. Sometimes serious.
Why do you get dizzy
In general terms, the causes of dizziness are simple. Most often, vertigo occurs when the connection between the brain and the inner ear, where the vestibular apparatus is located, is disrupted. The brain receives incorrect information about the orientation of the body in space, which makes it feel like the ground is moving under your feet or you are spinning on a children’s carousel. In parallel, a cascade of reactions is launched, designed to restore a sense of balance and stability. Some of these reactions also affect the autonomic centers in the brain, responsible, for example, for the regulation of the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal tract. Because of this, dizziness is often accompanied by bouts of nausea and palpitations with pallor and sweating. So, for example, it happens when motion sickness.
Fortunately, such loss of “understanding” between the brain and the vestibular apparatus does not happen often and does not last long. Doctors see no reason to panic in such short-term incidents.
Also, don’t worry too much if your head is spinning for longer, but for understandable reasons. These include:
- alcohol intoxication;
- side effects from medications taken (check the instructions!);
- motion sickness in a car, bus or ship;
- anemia – in particular, a low iron content in the blood;
- hypoglycemia – low blood sugar in response to a missed meal;
- excessively intense physical exercise;
- some infections.
Of course, even such dizzinesses are unpleasant. But in these situations they are one-time and short-term. And if you know what exactly causes them, you can effectively deal with the symptoms and prevent their occurrence in the future.
However, there are cases when dizziness is the tip of the iceberg and allows you to suspect really serious health problems.
When Dizziness Is Dangerous
Neurologists distinguish six conditions in which vertigo is the key and almost the only symptom that suggests the development of a serious, but so far hidden disease.
1. Head spinning frequently and for more than a few minutes
This may indicate a serious violation in the work of the inner ear. For example, about vestibular neuritis (viral infection of the vestibular nerve) or labyrinthitis (otitis media).
Such diseases are dangerous because at first they can be almost asymptomatic, and later their pathogens can affect the brain and nervous system – up to death.
2. Dizziness is accompanied by severe weakness, numbness of a part of the body, problems with speech and / or vision
This combination of symptoms can be a sign of a stroke , a cerebrovascular accident that is one of the most common causes of death in the world.
Be sure to test a person who experiences this type of dizziness with a one-minute test:
- Ask to smile broadly, showing teeth. If a person has a stroke, the smile will not be symmetrical: the corners of the lips will freeze at different levels.
- Ask them to close their eyes and raise their hands. A stroke (more precisely, the disturbances in the work of nerve endings and muscle weakness caused by it) will not allow the victim to raise his hands to the same height.
- Offer to repeat after you a simple sentence of a few words. For example: “I’m fine, and now it will become obvious.” If a stroke occurs, it will be difficult for a person to remember and reproduce the phrase. In addition, his pronunciation will be fuzzy, with a clear lisp on voiced consonants.
In the same way, when in doubt, you can try to check yourself.
If at least one task fails, urgently call an ambulance. Stroke is extremely dangerous : up to 84% of patients die or remain disabled, and only about 16% recover.
3. You always feel dizzy when you get up.
Short-term orthostatic hypotension (a decrease in blood pressure, including in the brain, which causes dizziness) is a fairly common condition and not that dangerous.
Most often it is due to the fact that the body does not have enough fluid. On the basis of mild dehydration, the blood becomes thicker, blood circulation worsens, so it is not difficult to earn orthostatic hypotension when rising to your feet from a lying or sitting position. This problem is solved simply: do not forget to drink water , especially in hot summers or during serious physical exertion.
But if you are absolutely sure that you do not have dehydration, and dizziness accompanies your every rise, you should contact a therapist as soon as possible. Such symptoms indicate possible cardiovascular diseases (arrhythmia, heart failure) or diseases of the central or peripheral nervous system.
4. Have you ever had bouts of unbearable headaches?
Many people are familiar with the word ” migraine “, but most believe that we are talking exclusively about a throbbing headache. Meanwhile, this is not entirely true: prolonged recurring dizziness can also be a migraine.
This neuropsychiatric disorder is potentially life-threatening as it can lead to a stroke or heart attack .
If your dizziness lasts several hours or more, occurs regularly, and in the past you have had a headache, be sure to consult a therapist to establish their possible causes and consequences.
We warn you: you may need hardware diagnostics – CT or MRI, for which the doctor will issue a referral again.
5. You hit your head recently
Vertigo is one of the most common symptoms of traumatic brain injury. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to rule out serious damage and swelling of the brain tissue.
6. You get dizzy while exercising
Most often in such conditions, the dehydration already mentioned above is to blame. Or hyperventilation: due to rapid breathing in the blood, the level of oxygen increases and the content of carbon dioxide decreases, which causes dizziness. Therefore, it is important to drink enough fluids, not be too zealous with cardio loads, and monitor your heart rate zones.
If you are sure that you drink your water norm, and your head starts to spin even during light exercise, go to the doctor. Here it is necessary to exclude the possibility of potentially dangerous cardiovascular disorders.
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