GETTING SUDDENLY DIZZY
Dizzy, Disoriented, Unstable, Unsteady, Lightheaded
A common and dangerous condition we deal with as we get older.
- Focus your eyes in the direction you are facing. Practice seeing consciously. In other words really "see" what you are looking at.
- Pause after changing position if you get light headed standing or sitting up. Wait for several minutes until the sensation passes before you start to move.
- Restrain the motion of your head. Head movement often causes disorientation.
- Pull your abdominals in to steady yourself.
- Step to the side to regain your balance.
What makes up balance?
- The inner ear sends information to the brain about the location of the head in space.
- The eyes inform the brain about the dimensions of the real world.
- The peripheral nervous system at the outer edge of the body informs the brain about where the limbs are in space (proprioception).
Why do we get dizzy?
- We get dizzy moving our head. Disorientation from changing the position of your head is quite common as we get older. The cause is a disorder of the inner ear called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This often results when you turn your head or when you look up to the top shelf in your closet, when you stoop down to pick up a Kleenex or when you roll over in bed. One aspect of the underlying condition that you are changing the orientation of your head from a normal upright position to tilting it, turning it, or moving it from a horizontal position to a vertical one. This causes warped information being sent to the brain. The brain gets confused and the result is a feeling of instability. If you suffer from this, learn to control the motion of your head. Turn your head slowly. Always hold onto something if you look up.
- Postural hypotension is also quite common in those older. If you get lightheaded when you stand up or sit up you may likely have this problem. When our body position changes, it sometimes take a few moments for the flow of blood to the brain to catch up. The solution is to be still for several minutes after changing positions before doing anything.
- Medications: Dizziness is a side effect of many common pharmaceuticals. Blood pressure medicine is notorious for it. This is of special concern because for those older it also dramatically increases the occurrence of falls. If you suffer from any light-headedness after taking your medication, report it to your doctor so the dosage or drug can be adjusted. Dosages are assigned based on averages. Every one is different. The average may not be appropriate for you but your doctor only knows if you say something about it. Most people unfortunately don't. Remember this is in pursuit of not having falls.
- Vertigo is a symptom of many illnesses. It is a very difficult condition that causes other kinds of troubles like digestion complications. Vertigo is quite different from dizziness and more debilitating than feeling unstable.
- There are all kinds of other things that make us feel unstable. Regardless of the cause of your dizziness, the recommendations above will help you.
Postural hypotension can affect us in unanticipated ways. One student of mine got lightheaded after sitting up in bed. As a result she fell out of bed reaching over to turn on her night light.
One gentleman with Parkinson's disease showed remarkable progress after regular class attendance over a 4-month period. Head movement diminished significantly and his balance improved so much that he no longer used a walker. This was possible because of the emphasis in Building Better Balance on using the eyes to reduce dizziness. By focusing his eyes, he reduced the motion of his head, stopped having falls and dramatically improved his balance.
We can reduce our risk of falling by controlling our head motion. Restraining head motion is exceptionally effective with conditions like Parkinson’s, but equally important for anyone vulnerable to feeling wobbly, shaky or dizzy.
The Building Better Balance DVD classes teach about how to deal with all of these things in order to improve balance and prevent having falls.