Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Health Care and Dizziness

Being dizzy is symptomatic of several medical or underlying health issues. Dizziness can be caused by different reasons and should never really be taken lightly, especially if you are experiencing it on a regular or sustained basis.

According to HealthLine, dizziness is the feeling of being lightheaded, woozy, or unbalanced. It affects the sensory organs, specifically eyes and ears. It can cause fainting. Dizziness is not a disease but a symptom of other disorders.

Vertigo and disequilibrium may cause a feeling of dizziness, but those two terms describe different symptoms. Vertigo is characterized by a feeling of spinning. Disequilibrium is a loss of balance or equilibrium. True dizziness is the feeling of lightheadedness or nearly fainting.

Dizziness is common. The underlying cause of dizziness is usually not serious. Occasional dizziness is nothing to worry about. However, frequent or sustained dizziness is another problem.

Seek medical attention if you have recurring bouts of dizziness with no apparent cause. Also seek immediate help if you experience sudden dizziness along with a head injury, a headache, neck ache, blurred vision, hearing loss, a loss of motor ability, a loss of consciousness, or chest pain. These could indicate serious issues. More detailed info can be found at this website: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/dizziness .

According to the Mayo Clinic, dizziness has many possible causes, including inner ear disturbance, motion sickness and medication effects. Sometimes it's caused by an underlying health condition, such as poor circulation, infection or injury. The way dizziness makes you feel and your triggers provide clues for possible causes. How long the dizziness lasts and any other symptoms you have also help pinpoint the cause. Factors that may increase your risk of getting dizzy include:

Age: Older adults are more likely to have medical conditions that cause dizziness, especially a sense of imbalance. They're also more likely to take medications that can cause dizziness.

A past episode of dizziness: If you've experienced dizziness before, you're more likely to get dizzy in the future.

Dizziness can increase your risk of falling and injuring yourself. Experiencing dizziness while driving a car or operating heavy machinery can increase the likelihood of an accident. You may also experience long-term consequences if an existing health condition that may be causing your dizziness goes untreated. Much more detailed material is located at this website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/basics/definition/con-20023004.

Occasional dizziness is very common in adults, but it may surprise you to learn that vertigo — a related but more serious condition that makes you feel like the room is spinning as you stand still — affects nearly 40 percent of people over 40 at least once, according to the University of San Francisco Medical Center.

While dizziness can make you feel momentarily unbalanced, and ranges in severity from merely annoying to seriously debilitating, vertigo may be a major symptom of a balance disorder. It can also cause nausea and vomiting.  Additional facts about dizziness are available at this site: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/10-surprising-facts-about-dizziness-vertigo/ .

According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, the body maintains balance with sensory information from three systems: vision,  proprioception (touch sensors in the feet, trunk, and spine), and vestibular system (inner ear). Sensory input from these three systems is integrated and processed by the brainstem. In response, feedback messages are sent to the eyes to help maintain steady vision and to the muscles to help maintain posture and balance.

A healthy vestibular system supplies the most reliable information about spatial orientation. Mixed signals from vision or proprioception can usually be tolerated. When sitting in a car at a railroad crossing, seeing a passing train may cause the sensation of drifting or moving, and feeling a soft, thick carpet underfoot as opposed to a solid wood floor can produce a floating sensation.

However, compensating for vestibular system abnormalities is more problematic. Just as a courtroom judge must rule between two sides presenting competing evidence, the vestibular system serves as the tie-breaker between conflicting forms of sensory information. When the vestibular system malfunctions, it can no longer help resolve moments of sensory conflict, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium. Dizziness can also be linked to a wide array of problems and is commonly linked to blood-flow irregularities from cardiovascular problems. A lot of detailed material on this subject is available at this website: http://vestibular.org/node/2 .

Dizziness accounts for about 5% to 6% of doctor visits, according to the Merck Manuals. Dizziness may be temporary or chronic. Dizziness is considered chronic if it lasts more than a month. Chronic dizziness is more common among older people. People who have warning signs, those whose symptoms are severe or have been continuous for over an hour, and those with vomiting should go to a hospital right away. Other people may see their doctor within several days. People who had a single, brief (less than 1 minute), mild episode with no other symptoms may choose to wait and see whether they have another episode.

Doctors first ask questions about the person's symptoms and medical history. Doctors then do a physical examination. What they find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause of the dizziness or vertigo and the tests that may need to be done. In addition to warning signs, important features that doctors ask about include severity of the symptoms (has the person fallen or missed work), presence of vomiting and/or ringing in the ears, whether symptoms come and go or have been continuous, and possible triggers of the symptoms (for example, changing position of the head or taking a new drug).

Doctors then do a physical examination. The ear, eye, and neurologic examinations are particularly important. Hearing is tested, and the ears are examined for abnormalities of the ear canal and eardrum. The eyes are checked for abnormal movements. Additional details are available at this site: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/symptoms-of-ear-disorders/dizziness-and-vertigo .

Pregnant women also experience dizziness. It's not uncommon to feel lightheaded or dizzy occasionally. When you're pregnant, your cardiovascular system undergoes dramatic changes. Your heart rate goes up, your heart pumps more blood per minute, and the amount of blood in your body increases by 40 to 45 percent, according to BabyCenter.com.

What's more, during a normal pregnancy, your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure gradually decreases, reaching its lowest point in mid-pregnancy. It then begins to go back up, returning to its regular level by the end of pregnancy. Most of the time, your cardiovascular and nervous systems are able to adjust to these changes, and there's adequate blood flow to your brain. But occasionally they don't adapt quickly enough, which can leave you feeling lightheaded or dizzy or cause you to faint.

The first thing to do is lie down so you won't fall and hurt yourself if you do faint. If you're in a place where it's impossible to lie down, sit down and try to put your head between your knees. And naturally, if you're doing anything that might put you or others at risk for injury, such as driving, pull over and stop right away. Lying on your side maximizes blood flow to your body and brain. It may keep you from fainting, and could relieve lightheadedness altogether. Lots of helpful information on pregnancy and dizziness is located at this site: http://www.babycenter.com/0_dizziness-and-fainting-during-pregnancy_228.bc .

Dizziness is typically not harmful, unless there is a more severe underlying cause. It’s definitely inconvenient and can be stressful. However, if you feel that symptoms are more severe than usual for any reason, see your doctor, or go to the nearest medical facility to get checked out. It may be nothing to worry about, or it might be a health situation that needs definite medical attention and diagnosis by a healthcare professional. Be careful.


Until next time. 

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