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Is it Love? Or Just Vertigo?

February is usually the month we talk about heart health. A little obvious you might say, and I would agree, so I thought I would look at something I have seen a lot of lately and find an angle to make it work into the month of love. True love can make us dizzy or a little light-headed, so let’s go with that!!

If you have experienced dizziness or vertigo, you know how unsettling it can be. If it isn’t because you are falling in love, you need to find out why you are feeling that way. Vertigo and dizziness are not exactly the same thing, but most people mix the two. Technically vertigo is the sensation of spinning when you are not moving at all; it’s that feeling of moving when you’re not. Dizziness is more the feeling of being “off” in your balance or your sense of where you are. For simplicity, we’ll just call it vertigo since most people know that term.

There are a number of reasons you can feel these symptoms. Your sense of balance depends on a complex interplay of your eyes, your ears, and the joints in your upper neck; any one can disturb your sense of balance. If it gets bad enough you literally cannot stand! Some of the more extreme causes are conditions such as Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, and migraines, but much more commonly they are caused by things that can diagnosed and corrected at any functional medicine office. Let’s look at a few.

Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can give you a sense of lightheadedness or dizziness as your legs become weak and your brain gets low on energy. Blood tests that confirm blood glucose along with HBA1c, insulin, and C-peptide can diagnose the source of this problem. A number of supplements such as berberine and chromium can stabilize blood sugar levels. If this is what is causing your issue, then your diet needs to be looked at as well. Diets that are chronically high in sugars, carbs, and processed foods almost guarantee a condition called insulin resistance which can set you up for a fall.

Low Iron

Low iron can also cause the weak, lightheaded sensation due to poor oxygenation, especially in your brain and its balance centers. Low iron can be based on not enough dietary intake, poor absorption (remember when I’ve talked about leaky gut?), or secondary nutritional issues such as copper deficiency. A high-quality iron supplement can readily address this issue. Low quality iron supplements absorb very poorly and are more likely to cause constipation than relief. If you often experience cold hands and feet along with fatigue, then you are quite possibly looking at an iron deficiency.

Medication Side Effect

Many meds can cause dizziness and vertigo. Unfortunately, the answer you will receive in these cases is more meds! It is important to review your medication list and check for side effects. Do not leave this up to your health care provider; calling your pharmacist will probably give you a good answer here.

A particularly important thing to remember is that quite often blood pressure meds can lower your blood pressure too much. If your doctor is pushing your diastolic below 60, you may want to remind them that at a certain point falling and breaking something is a bigger risk than high blood pressure! Typically, there are supplements that can help lower blood pressure naturally.

Cervical Spine Issues

An interesting experiment was performed in which lidocaine was injected into the joints of the upper neck to see what effect that would have on spinal function. Many of the test subjects experienced very serious balance problems. If your upper cervical spine has any alignment issues, then nothing else will help with your dizziness. If you already have a history of neck problems, especially upper neck, see your chiropractor first!

If you find that dizziness and vertigo are worsened by looking quickly to the right or left, then that is usually a confirmation that your spine is the source of your problems.

There are many other issues that can cause dizziness, including the one everyone blames balance problems on – ear stones (technically called otoliths). While these can definitely create issues, my experience has shown that they are rarely the root cause. A combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine is often the best place to start to get relief without risking side effects or poor results. Then again, you may just be experiencing the side effects of love!

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