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How do I Treat Severe Dizziness?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2016
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Severe dizziness is characterized by a feeling of unbalance and uncontrollable spinning, and is often accompanied by a proclivity for falling down. This condition is usually an underlying symptom of a larger problem, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), low blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or as a side effect of a medication. Treating these fundamental problems may relieve your dizziness.

The vestibular, or inner ear, problem known as BPPV is a disorder which involves dizziness, typically while changing positions, and is caused by damaged to grains of calcium called otoliths which signal to the brain when the body is in motion or tilting. Otoliths can be damaged by a head injury, ear infection, or aging. Sometimes, the treatment for BPPV is to simply wait and see if the dizziness dissipates when the infection or head injury heals. If BPPV is chronic, then vestibular rehabilitation or balance retraining is often tried. These types of therapies involve exercises of the lower body to improve muscle strength and flexibility to better stabilize the body when dizzy, and exercises of the eyes and head to train the body to tolerate and handle dizziness.

Low blood pressure and heart disease cause also cause severe dizziness. When blood pressure is low, or when arteries are block by heart disease, blood flow to the brain is often reduced. This deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients, causing dizziness. Stabilizing blood pressure and treating heart disease will often reduce or eliminate severe dizziness.

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One of the first warning signs that blood sugar levels are off for a diabetic is severe dizziness. Hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels, cause dizziness when glucose, the energy source for the brain, is in short supply. Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose levels, results when there is insufficient insulin available to transfer glucose from the blood to the cells. This lack of available energy can also result in dizziness. Carefully maintaining blood glucose levels should prevent dizziness.

Blood pressure medication, sedatives, and antibiotics are all drugs which may cause severe dizziness. The dizziness will often subside after the medication has been stopped or once the body becomes accustom to the medication. Taking the drug as directed, for example with food or lots of water, can sometimes alleviate this problem.

You can do many things to minimize severe dizziness and prevent a fall. A dizzy spell frequently occurs after getting up, so try moving slowly from a prone position into a sitting position, remain sitting for a few minutes, and then rise to a standing position. It might also help to place a hand on a wall or secure object during the transition. If you feel dizzy, immediately sit down. Also, remove any hazards including throw rugs, electric cords, or toys from the immediate area, which could cause a fall during a dizzy spell.

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