Other Causes of Dizziness and Imbalance
You can feel dizzy and lose your balance for many reasons that are not related to vestibular disorders.
- Alcohol Misuse
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, either through binge drinking or long-term alcohol misuse can cause dizziness and balance problems.
Light-headedness and dizziness are sometimes associated with food allergies.
- Cardiovascular Problems
The following cardiovascular conditions are known to cause dizziness: arrhythmia; atherosclerosis; brain aneurysm; carotid sinus syndrome; cervical spondylosis; heart valve disorders; myocardial infarction (heart attack); vascular dementia; and vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI). If you have any of these conditions and experience dizziness, get medical help immediately.
More information: Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas produced by improperly ventilating burning gas, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel, can build up in your bloodstream. One symptom is dizziness.
Severe dehydration may leave you feeling dizzy or light-headed and unable to stand or walk normally. Causes include: not drinking enough during exercise; an illness that causes vomiting, diarrhoea or fever; and excessive urination in individuals with diabetes due to hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar),
Hyperventilation creates a low level of carbon dioxide in the blood. It might occur when you exercise strenuously or exhale excessively when you are under stress – this affects the function of brain cells and causes temporary dizziness.
- Illness or Infection
Some illnesses or infections, such as sinus infections, diarrhoea, bacterial infections of the middle ear and influenza, can cause temporary dizziness.
- Medication Side Effects
One or more side effects of many medications can affect your balance. Common problems include vision changes, dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness and impaired judgment. Some medications, for example Gentamicin, damage the inner ear leading to temporary or permanent balance disorders. Medications that can alter balance include: antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants; antihistamines; anti-malarials; anti-psychotics; diuretics; cholesterol-lowering drugs; mucolytics; Parkinson’s disease medications; analgesics (both prescription and over-the counter); sleep aids (both prescription and non-prescription); and heavy metals. Sometimes it is not a single medication that causes the problem, but a combination of drugs taken together. Older adults are particularly at risk as drugs are metabolized differently as we age. If you think a medication may be causing your dizziness, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
- Metabolic disorders
Conditions which cause problems with metabolism (blood chemistry) include: anemia, blood sugar disorders and imbalance (most common in diabetics); dehydration and heat exhaustion; eating disorders; hormonal imbalance and hormone (endocrine) disorders; kidney disorders; and thyroid disorders.
National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)
Thyroid Foundation of Canada
Causes of temporary dizziness during the menstrual cycle include anemia due to heavy bleeding (menorrhagia); hormonal changes; hypoglycaemia and migraine.
More information: YourPeriod.ca
- Pernicious Anemia
Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease in which insufficient red blood cell production leads to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Symptoms include dizziness and imbalance and difficulty walking.More information:Pernicious Anemia Society
- Recreational Use of Drugs
One of the most common side effects of using marijuana is dizziness, especially when you stand up.
- Stress or Anxiety
Being stressed, anxious, tense, fatigued or irritable can provoke dizziness or a sense of imbalance.
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