Common Causes of Dizziness in Seniors and How to Manage Them

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Approximately 30 percent of seniors over the age of 60 struggle with dizziness on a regular basis.

Dizziness is a serious issue for seniors, as it can contribute to falls, which are the leading cause of death among senior citizens.

Some seniors think that dizziness and a loss of stability are just part of the aging process. That’s definitely not the case, though. Dizziness can often be a symptom of a more serious medical condition that needs to be dealt with right away.

Listed below are some of the most common causes of dizziness in seniors, along with tips on how to effectively manage this difficult symptom.

Types of Dizziness

Did you know that there are different types of dizziness? Being able to pinpoint the specific type of dizziness you or a loved one is experiencing is essential for figuring out the cause of your symptoms and identifying the most appropriate management strategy.

Listed below are three of the most well-known types of dizziness:

  • Vertigo: This is a feeling of motion even when nothing is moving — if you have vertigo, you may feel as though you or your environment is spinning.

  • Lightheadedness: This sensation, also referred to as near syncope or pre-syncope, is the feeling you experience when you’re about to faint.

  • Disequilibrium: This is a type of dizziness that causes you to feel unsteady on your feet and as though you’re about to fall.

Cardiovascular Issues

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of dizziness among seniors. In fact, the results of one study showed that 57 percent of senior patients suffering from dizziness were suffering from heart disease.

The subjects of the study suffered from various types of dizziness, but lightheadedness was the most common, followed by vertigo and disequilibrium, respectively.

Common cardiovascular issues that contribute to feelings of dizziness include:

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)

  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened, diseased, or aged heart muscle)

  • Extremely high or low blood pressure

Medications

There are a number of medications that can also contribute to various types of dizziness. Some of the most well-known medications that list dizziness as a symptom include:

  • Blood pressure medications

  • Sedatives and tranquilizers

  • Diuretics

  • Antidepressants

  • Antibiotics

  • Pain relievers

  • Neuroleptics

Some doctors may prescribe an additional medication to try and eliminate the dizziness without stopping the use of the original prescription.

For some people, these drugs work well. But, many other people experience increased dizziness, along with other unpleasant symptoms like insomnia, hallucinations, diplopia (double vision), and increased irritability.

Metabolic Disorders

Dizziness is also a common symptom of metabolic disorders, including hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetes, and even dehydration. Low magnesium levels and thyroid dysfunction (both overactive and underactive thyroid) are also common causes of dizziness in seniors.

Lightheadedness is the most common type of dizziness that occurs alongside metabolic disorders. These kinds of disorders can also cause feelings of confusion, lethargy, fatigue, and seizures.

Psychiatric Conditions

Psychiatric conditions are another one of the most common causes of dizziness. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and panic disorder are also quite common among senior citizens — nearly 19 percent of seniors suffer from either an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.

There are a number of reasons why psychiatric conditions contribute to dizziness, including the following:

  • Hyperventilation, which often accompanies panic attacks, can cause lightheadedness

  • Dizziness may be a form of somatization (the conversion of a mental illness into physical symptoms

  • Stress, which can cause or be caused by anxiety, has been linked to dizziness

Lifestyle Remedies for Dizziness

While identifying the cause of your dizziness is essential, the following tips can help you manage your symptoms — and possibly eliminate them altogether:

  • Eating regularly to prevent dips in blood sugar

  • Staying hydrated

  • Getting sufficient amounts of rest

  • Standing up slowly

You may also want to think about installing safety measures to make your home safer while you work on identifying the cause of your dizziness.

Things like rubber bathtub mats and grab bars can help to prevent falls in the bathroom, and securing rugs and carpeting in the rest of the house can help you avoid slipping and falling when a dizzy spell hits.

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