Having a dizzy spell is an uncomfortable experience, whether it lasts for only a few moments or it persists for an extended period. Dizziness is described differently by those who have experienced it, including feelings of wooziness, being unbalanced on their feet, feeling lightheaded or a sensation of the room spinning around while sitting or standing still. Feelings of dizziness take place often without warning, and most adults can remember a time where a dizzy spell took hold. While dizziness takes place for a variety of reasons, there are certain situations where experiencing feelings of imbalance or head spinning require medical attention. First, however, it is helpful to understand the common medical conditions that result in dizziness.
What Causes Dizziness
Standing up too quickly from a sedentary position, heavy alcohol intake, or an extreme physical activity may also prompt a dizzy spell from time to time, but there are more serious medical conditions that result in dizziness which should be addressed. These common conditions include the following:
Ear infections: most associate ear infections with young children, and while that is the most common occurrence, adults can also suffer from ear infections as they age. An infection caused by a virus or bacteria in the inner ear interrupts a person’s balance, making dizziness an all too common symptom. Doctors are able to prescribe antibiotics to clear an inner ear infection which subsequently reduces the dizzy feeling.
Meniere’s disease: although less common, Meniere’s disease is also a medical condition that can lead to dizzy spells in adults. As a long-term, progressive condition, Meniere’s disease is not easy to diagnose given that the causes are widely unknown. For some patients, pressure from fluid in the endolymphatic sac has been linked to the progression of the disease which can offset a person’s balance resulting in ongoing vertigo. Meniere’s disease does not have a cure, but medical professionals may be able to offer recommendations for easing symptoms for patients living with the disease.
Anemia: low iron in the blood, known as anemia, has also been linked to spells of dizziness in adults. When the blood does not have enough iron to make red blood cells and hemoglobin necessary to provide oxygen to the brain, balance is thrown off causing dizziness. Diagnosis of anemia requires a blood test, and doctors may suggest a diet shift to include iron-rich foods or an iron supplement.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: BPPV is one of the most common medical conditions that causes dizziness in adult patients. For some, a cause of BPPV cannot be easily identified, while for others, trauma to the head which results in damage to the inner ear may be the culprit. Medical professionals can offer solutions through medication or procedures to help ease the symptom of dizziness due to BPPV.
How to Seek Help
It may not seem as though dizziness is an urgent medical issue, especially for those who experience it only on occasion and in a mild form. However, it is important to seek medical attention for dizziness if it persists for an extended period or it becomes debilitating. Scheduling an appointment with a GP or an ear, nose, and throat or ENT specialist is the first step in getting a proper diagnosis and ultimately receiving the treatment that is the best fit for the underlying medical condition causing vertigo. During an appointment for dizziness, the doctor or specialist will ask about a patient’s experience with dizzy spells, medical history, and any other pertinent factors that may help them understand the issues at hand.
Seeking medical attention for dizziness requires some responsibility by the patient when it comes to receiving the correct diagnosis and subsequent course of treatment. A solicitor from a medical law firm explains that it is not rare to have a negligence case involving an ENT condition given the similarities of symptoms to other medical conditions. For example, an individual who has Meniere’s disease may be initially diagnosed with an inner ear infection and given antibiotics to reduce the symptoms. Unfortunately, antibiotics will do little good for Meniere’s disease, and the dizziness will persist over time. Patients can reduce the potential for a misdiagnosis of an ENT condition by seeking out a qualified second opinion after the initial doctor’s visit is complete.
Having the occasional dizzy spell may not warrant a visit to the doctor’s office, but experts encourage individuals with ongoing vertigo to make an appointment sooner rather than later. Getting the correct diagnosis for the underlying medical condition is the only way to reduce the occurrence of dizziness over time, giving patients the ability to lead a normal, active life without feeling unsteady on their feet.