How do you describe the way you are feeling? “Lightheaded”, “woozy or woozyheaded”, “spinning”, “drunkfeeling”, “swimmy”,” whirling”, “vertigo”, “bedspins”, “faintness”, “unsteady” “wobbly”, “tipsy”,” groggy” , “giddy” and “unbalanced” are all words individuals offer when asked what they mean to say when they are “dizzy.”
In fact, these words have meaning only to the individuals using them! These symptoms may result from dysfunction in almost any part of the body including brain, heart, and the inner ear as examples. These feelings can both cause and be caused by anxiety. Our short survey will help you discover the reason for your discomfort.
Q: HOW DO YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIGHTHEADEDNESS AND VERTIGO?
A: Vertigo is a sensation that your surroundings are actually moving or shifting when they are not, for example the sensation of spinning that occurs when looking out while riding a merry-go-round. Sometimes there is a feeling that you are turning or shaking your head so that your world is moving! Vertigo is always due to some malfunction of the inner ear or it’s connections in the brain.
Lightheadedness is a less specific feeling, frequently difficult to describe, that basically means you are at that moment not steady or stable on your feet or are in danger of passing out. This feeling is associated with numerous medical and neurologic conditions as well as inner ear disorders.
Q: HOW CAN I TELL IF MY MEDICINE IS CAUSING MY SYMPTOMS?
A: Medications can produce dizziness by effecting your alertness, causing changes in blood pressure or effecting your sensory systems particularly inner ear balance mechanisms. “Dizziness” is the most common side effect listed for hundreds of prescribed drugs. The lists include blood pressure medications, benzodiazepines, diuretics and many agents prescribed for mood disorders. Unfortunately it usually requires stopping a medication to determine if is the cause of the adverse effect. If you are concerned about a drug, be sure to discuss it with your physician and/or pharmacist!
Q: CAN ANXIETY CAUSE DIZZINESS?
A: Anxiety disorders are often accompanied by a sense of lightheadedness. Frequently there are other symptoms including difficulties breathing with shortness of breath or air hunger, chest tightness, sweating, nausea and palpitations. Over breathing also called hyperventilation is common. It is important to know that in many cases, the anxiety is actually produced by dysfunction in the inner ear. For example, it is not uncommon for a person to turn over in bed and suddenly develop one or more of the symptoms described above!
Q: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CAUSES OF “DIZZINESS?”
A: Here is a list of conditions we commonly identify:
- BENIGN PAROXYSMAL POSITIONAL VERTIGO ( BPPV)
- MENIERE’S SYNDROME
- ACOUSTIC NERVE TUMORS
- MS ( MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS)
- SPINAL CORD DISEASE
- CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
** These conditions are not named in any particular order of frequency **