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Feeling dizzy? Talk to your doctor

feeling-dizzy-1.jpgYou may be tempted to overlook occasional dizzy spells, but letting your doctor know about them could uncover an easily treated health issue or help protect you from a serious injury. 

Your physician will probably first check your blood pressure as a potential cause.

“Low blood pressure or a drop in blood pressure when standing up could cause you to feel dizzy or unsteady,” said Dr. Sophia Khan, a Rowan Family Medicine physician with offices in Mt. Laurel. “If you are currently taking medicine for high blood pressure, your dose may need to be adjusted, especially if you have recently lost weight or if you have made some positive lifestyle changes by exercising more or eating a healthier diet.”

Be sure to let your physician know if you are taking any medications prescribed by another physician, over-the-counter supplements or if you have been ill recently. Every medication or supplement could potentially alter the effect of your blood pressure medication and recent bouts of fever, diarrhea or vomiting could lead to dehydration, which in turn can cause dizziness.

Inner ear infections are another common cause of dizzy spells.

“Tiny structures, called vestibular organs, in the inner ear send continuous messages to the brain to help regulate balance,” she said. “Any disturbance or infection of the vestibular organs can affect your balance. Once diagnosed, this condition is usually easy to treat.”  

To help determine the cause of any dizzy spells, your physician will want to know as much detail as possible about what happens when you feel dizzy. For example, is it a temporary sensation or does it persist? Remember to tell your physician if you also experience other symptoms, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or headache.

If an initial exam doesn’t reveal the cause of your dizzy spells, your physician may prescribe some additional blood tests to check for such things as iron or blood sugar levels.

Finding and treating the cause of both recurrent and occasional dizzy spells may also help prevent a serious, fall-related injury. This is especially true for older individuals. Government statistics show that 20 percent of falls among older adults cause a broken bone or head injury which could lead to hospitalization or a loss of independence.  

“Usually, the underlying causes of dizzy spells are easily treated by your physician,” Dr. Khan said. “But always remember to seek immediate medical attention if you have dizzy spells that are accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, a severe headache, persistent vomiting or a sudden change in your speech, hearing or vision, as these could indicate a serious medical condition.”