Dizziness can be quite debilitating when you don’t keep it in check. For elderly people, it increases your risk of falling, leading to potentially life-threatening situations. Let’s take a look at what causes dizziness in the elderly and how you can treat it.
Causes of Severe Dizziness in the Elderly
The causes of dizziness in elderly adults depend on a number of factors, both on their own and as they interact with each other. Here are a few reasons for persistent dizziness in the elderly.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
The main cause of dizziness in elderly adults is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is a sudden spinning sensation or feeling like the inside of your head is spinning. This condition causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. Specific changes in your head’s position — such as lying down, turning over, sitting up, and tipping your head up or down — can trigger this specific type of vertigo. While the condition can be annoying, it’s only dangerous when it increases your risk of falls. You should seek emergency care if you experience symptoms such as severe headaches, double vision or loss of vision, hearing loss, trouble speaking, fever, losing consciousness, and numbness.
Progressive Degeneration of the Spine
The second most common cause of dizzy spells in the elderly is the progressive degeneration of the spine. When aging and/or arthritis affects your cervical spine or neck, it will not move as easily and will send error messages to the brain about the head’s position. This sensory mismatch can lead to imbalance and falling.
Mental Health Disorders/Anxiety
If an elderly person is anxious about falling and/or losing their balance, it will ultimately increase their risk of doing so.
Abnormal Blood-Pressure Regulation
Low blood pressure can cause orthostatic hypotension, leading to blurred vision and disorientation. You experienced this condition if you felt lightheaded after standing up too quickly. However, these dizzy spells are usually over in a few seconds.
Medication Side Effects
Several medications prescribed to older adults are among the reasons for dizzy spells in elderly adults. Medications such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and calcium-channel blockers feature dizziness as a side effect. If you take multiple medications, consult your doctor to ensure there are no drug interactions that could cause it.
Management of Dizziness in the Elderly
Now that we know more about some of the causes and symptoms of dizziness in the elderly, let’s take a look at how to treat dizziness in the elderly.
- Drink water to alleviate dehydration, a common cause of dizziness
- Add fresh or ground ginger to your diet or drink ginger tea
- Take Vitamin C (grapefruits, oranges, and strawberries), Vitamin D (fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms), Vitamin E (seeds, nuts, and spinach), and iron (red meat, poultry, and leafy greens)
- Take water pills or diuretics to treat fluid buildup in the inner ear canal, a common cause of dizziness in elderly
- Antihistamines and anticholinergics are two prescription medications that directly treat dizziness rather than the underlying condition
- Over-the-counter antihistamines can work but the non-drowsy options are less effective