Many older people experience dizziness that can be acute (coming on suddenly) or chronic (continuing).
Dizziness can be the result of a specific disorder or a combination of several problems.
Symptoms of dizziness that occur before fainting are called presyncope.
Dizziness can be caused by medications, blood pressure changes, heart problems, neurological disorders, or inner ear problems.
The causes of dizziness
Dizziness is a common symptom that can be caused by several health issues. One of these conditions is orthostatic or postural hypotension, a sudden drop in blood pressure due to a quick change in posture from sitting to standing.
Dizziness may also be associated with anxiety disorders, especially during panic attacks and periods of hyperventilation.
In addition, some individuals may experience presyncope — sudden lightheadedness without loss of consciousness — which is particularly prevalent among those with chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes.
Dizziness can be caused by a variety of issues related to the inner ear. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most commoncause in the elderly, which occurs when calcium crystals become dislodged from their normal position and incorrect messages are sent to your brain about head movement.
Labyrinthitis, or acute vestibular neuritis, is an inflammation of the inner ear often afflicting elderly people. It can cause intense dizziness lasting days or even longer. Meniere’s disease results in a build up of fluid in the inner ear, while vestibular migraine causes prolonged lightheadedness between episodes of migraine headaches.
Vestibular schwannoma is a rarer form that usually has slowly progressive hearing loss as one of its symptoms. Vertigo can also be indicative of strokes or multiple sclerosis.
Diagnosis and tests for dizziness
The therapy required to relieve dizziness depends on the causes detected after assessment of medical history and overall health.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is eased with the highly effective Epley maneuver which simply involves slow head and body movements intended to realign any calcium crystals stuck in inner ear semicircular canals; it’s pain-free and non-invasive although multiple sessions might be needed for lasting results.
For labyrinthitis, motion sickness medicine will help reduce acute feelings of dizziness alongside anti-inflammatory medication for inflammation relief if necessary plus antibiotics in some cases. For Meniere’s disease medication like meclinizine (Antivert) will prove useful for controlling persistent vertigo along with diuretics & saline restriction to reduce fluid buildup within inner ears – however it’s classed as chronic so symptoms need minimizeeing rather than curing completely.
If low blood pressure leads to feeling faint then a glance at medications needs looking into before alternative treatments like eating specifically outlining your diet.
Suggested over-the-knee stockings might help improve circulation together with exercising more care when undertaking physical activities outside during hot days.
Drugs such as fludrocortisone increasing bodily fluids and Midodrine raising blood pressure when standing also are helpful.
NSAIDs and caffeine despite their associated risks may be useful.
Lifestyle and management
Dizziness can be caused by a wide range of lifestyle and environmental factors, ranging from lack of rest or dehydration to inner ear issues.
However, managing these factors is essential in minimizing or completely avoiding dizziness.
This could include drinking more water and getting enough rest, avoiding strong smells or sudden movements that may induce vertigo, as well as following any medical instructions prescribed by your physician.
Adjustments to your diet
One thing you can do to reduce or manage the feeling of dizziness is to make adjustments to your diet.
Eating small and regular meals, ensuring you get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, avoiding substances such as alcohol and caffeine, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated are all important for helping to maintain a healthy balance of fluids in your body, which can help reduce feelings of dizziness.
If you suddenly have low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension), you should:
- Drink plenty of fluids every day.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Consider increasing your salt intake to promote fluid retention (if you don’t have high blood pressure between episodes of low blood pressure). Check with your doctor if it is safe for you to raise your salt.
Dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness or unsteadiness that can range from subtle to intense and may signal a medical problem.
It can be caused by factors such as dehydration, medication side effects, sudden drops in blood pressure, inner ear disorders, or underlying health conditions like hypoglycemia, stroke and heart disease.
Treating dizziness usually depends on the cause and may include lifestyle changes, medications or physical therapy.