Dizziness is a word used to describe a wide variety of sensations and is a top reason people make an appointment to see their doctor. Some people experience episodes of dizziness when they stand too quickly, others get dizzy when they turn over in bed, and you can even get dizzy when reading in the car.
When dizziness occurs a person may have a sensitivity to light, sound, and movement that seems to throw off their balance. During a dizziness episode, visual disturbances may occur that make him or her sensitive to movement and can "paralyze" a person. All of these things can hinder the ability to think or even perform daily activities.
About 15% of people under the age of 40 have experienced dizziness, and the rate increases to 40% in the over 40 crowd. All together, that makes one third of all visits to healthcare providers due to problems with dizziness, and other conditions such as Meniere’s disease and vertigo. Dizziness can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life if it happens often. However, it is good to note that it rarely is life-threatening unless it denotes an underlying heart condition.
To review, some of the sensations the word dizziness covers are:
Wooziness or a floating feeling
Feeling lightheaded or as if one will faint
Feeling unsteady or off balance
A sensation of spinning or movement called vertigo
When visiting a medical doctor, he or she will often suggest one of the following pharmaceuticals:
Why Is It Happening?
Obviously, if someone is suffering from this problem, the body is not functioning at its best. The balance system is made up of several components: the vestibular system; the position sensors of the neck, jaw, and back; and pressure sensors on the bottom of your feet.
The vestibular system is made up of the canals of the ear that are fluid filled and have sensors that detect movement of that fluid, telling you that you are changing position. The sensors on your neck joints measure position and movement of theses joints, telling you where you are and if you are moving or not. All of these inputs work together to help your brain decide what your body is doing.
If something is wrong in the balance system, the body is not able to relay proper signals to the brain as to whether or not it is upright. These improper signals can cause dizziness, which can advance to a chronic issue like vertigo.
Is Medication Always the Best Solution to Dizziness?
The National Institute of Health reports that close to 50% of all people in America who have insurance are taking prescription medication, and all of those medications have some side-effect, which can sometimes exacerbate the original symptom or create symptoms that are worse than the original problem.
It is important that you discuss the potential side effects of medications with your doctor as well as investigate the medication on medlineplus.gov so you can ask informed questions of both your doctor and pharmacist.
Also, it is important to understand how testing is completed as a medication is developed and before it goes on the market. Most testing involves patients who are males between the ages of 25 and 50. Therefore, if one is a male in this age range, he can rely on the results of the test performed. However, if one is a female, an elderly person, or a child, they may have a different reaction that has not been evaluated. Other things such as hormones, other medications being taken, age, and health problems should be carefully looked at before deciding to take medication with the potential for unwanted side effects. Because of this risk, many look for natural solutions.
What Can Help Dizziness?
A good place to begin to look for help is to visit your local upper cervical chiropractor. We have advanced training that focuses on the upper bones of the neck, called the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae. A misalignment of these top bone effects the position of the head on the neck, which changes the information coming from the neck position sensors. This bad information coming in disrupts a portion of the balance system, leading to dizziness.
Once we are able to work with our patients to correct this misalignment, the balance system functions can return to normal, resulting in fewer episodes of dizziness, and some see it go away entirely.
Agrawal Y, Carey JP, Della Santina CC, Schubert MC, Minor LB. Disorders of balance and vestibular function in US adults. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(10): 938-944.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Strategic Plan (FY 2006-2008). Available at: www.nidcd.nih.gov/StaticResources/about/plans/strategic/strategic06-08.pdf. (accessed 31 March 2015).
Neuhauser HK, Radtke A, von Brevern M et al. Burden of dizziness and vertigo in the community. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(19):2118–2124.0
Burcon MT. Upper cervical specific protocol and results for 139 patients with medically diagnosed Meniere’s disease., J Vertebral Subluxation Res November 14, 2010:1-10.