Do you feel faint, woozy, weak or unsteady? Dizziness is a frequent complaint among older adults at their doctor’s appointments. Although it is rarely a symptom of any life-threatening condition, it still can have a significant impact on someone’s day-to-day life, if it’s not treated.
Treating Dizziness in the Elderly
Treatment for dizziness depends on the cause and symptoms. Seniors with balance problems may consider using a walker to maintain balance.
In many cases, dizziness goes away without treatment, you can also do some exercises to help your body for better balance. Those who do require treatment need to keep in mind that, while most treatment for dizziness is effective, the problem may recur.
When treatment is necessary, one of the following may be an option that your physician recommends.
- Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of therapy that focuses on strengthening the vestibular system. This system functions by sending signals to the brain about the movement of the head and body as it is related to gravity. Vestibular rehabilitation aims to train the other senses to compensate for vertigo.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be given to relieve symptoms that are associated with dizziness, such as nausea or motion sickness. If the dizziness is caused by an infection, antibiotics may be required before symptoms resolve. If you have Meniere’s disease you may need diuretics to help reduce pressure from fluid buildup.
- Surgical Intervention: In some instances, such as when there has been an injury to the brain or neck or there is the presence of a tumor, surgery may be required to treat the problem and relieve the symptoms of dizziness.
Symptoms of Dizziness in the Elderly
People who experienced dizziness describe it as any of a number of sensations, like:
- Unsteadiness or a loss of balance
- Lightheadedness or feeling faint
- A false sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
- A feeling of floating or heavy-headedness
These feelings may be triggered by moving your head, standing up or walking. Your dizziness may be accompanied by nausea or be so sudden or severe that you have to sit or lie down. The duration of the episode very, It may last seconds or days and may always recur.
What Causes Dizziness in the Elderly?
Dizziness or vertigo is more common in older adults, it also has more causes, is less likely to be due to psychologically rooted and can often be more incapacitating.
In addition to physical changes, such as weak muscles and brittle bones, dizziness affects approximately 70% of adults aged 65 or older. Understanding the possible causes and risk factors for dizziness is an important step in preventing falls or injury.
Below are some common causes of dizziness in the elderly:
A person’s sense of balance is influenced by the combined input from the various parts of your sensory system like eyes, sensory nerves, and inner ear.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This condition causes an intense and brief, but false sense that one is spinning or moving. These episodes are triggered by a rapid change in head movement, such as when turning over in bed, sitting up quickly, or when a blow to the head occurs.
- Infection. You can suffer from intense and constant vertigo caused by a viral infection of the vestibular nerve, called vestibular neuritis.
- Meniere’s disease. This disease involves the excessive buildup of fluid in the inner ear. It is characterized by sudden episodes of vertigo lasting as long as several hours. Additionally, there may be fluctuations of hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or feeling like the ear is “plugged.”
Some people report feeling dizzy, faint, or “off-balance” when the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to the brain. Some causes for this include:
- Drop in blood pressure. A dramatic drop in blood pressure may cause brief lightheadedness or a feeling of faintness. It can occur after sitting or standing up too quickly. This condition is known as orthostatic hypotension.
- Poor blood circulation. Conditions such as heart attack, heart arrhythmia, and transient ischemic attack could cause dizziness. A decrease in blood volume may cause negatively affect adequate blood flow to the brain or inner ear.
Dizziness can be a side effect of certain medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, anti-seizure drugs, and tranquilizers. For instance, blood pressure-lowering medications may cause faintness if they lower your blood pressure too much.
Low iron levels (anemia)
Low iron levels can lead to dizziness. Other signs and symptoms that may occur along include weakness, pale skin, and fatigue.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
People with hypoglycemia often face with dizziness. This condition occurs in people with diabetes. Lightheadedness may be accompanied by anxiety and sweating.
Overheating and dehydration
If you’re active in hot weather or if you don’t drink enough water, you may feel dizzy from overheating or dehydration. This is especially possible if you take certain heart medications.
Some neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, can lead to progressive loss of balance.
Is Dizziness Related to Dementia?
It was not until the last several years that the connection between dementia and dizziness was highlighted. Although dementia is not a known cause of dizziness, a recent study focused on orthostatic hypotension, found that 54 percent of middle-aged people with orthostatic hypotension were likely to develop dementia over the next 25 years than those without the condition.
When to see a doctor?
Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are important and may help pinpoint risk factors for dizziness before the condition gets out of hand. Additionally, you should see your doctor if you experience any recurrent, sudden, severe, or prolonged and unexplained dizziness or vertigo.
Anyone who experiences new or severe dizziness along with any of the following symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Sudden, severe headache
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Numbness or paralysis of arms or legs
- Double vision
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Confusion or slurred speech
- Stumbling or difficulty walking
- Ongoing vomiting
- A sudden change in hearing
- Facial numbness or weakness
Anyone who is experiencing dizziness has an increased risk of falls and injuries. Being an older adult can increase this risk even more.
The elderly experience slower reaction time, weakened muscles and brittle bones, all of which can make the risk of injury unavoidable if a fall occurs. Protect yourself with above-mentioned treating options and improve your balance.