Top tips for keeping dizzy bouts at bay

EVER felt a bit light-headed after standing up? Most of us have experienced that momentary dizziness from time to time.

Researchers at Harvard have warned that those who regularly experience more severe dizziness, at least three minutes after standing up (known as ’delayed orthostatic hypotension’), may have a higher risk of early death and developing degenerative brain diseases.

The study, carried out by Dr Christopher Gibbons of Harvard Medical School, looked at the nervous systems of 165 adults with an average age of 59, over 10 years.

Those who did suffer with delayed orthostatic hypotension had death rates of 29% over the decade (9% in healthy subjects) and their rates of degenerative disease (such as Parkinson’s or dementia) was 31%, compared to 8%.

Dr Gibbons said: “Our findings may lead to earlier recognition, diagnosis and treatments of this condition, and possibly other underlying diseases that may contribute to early death.” 

Again, the results only apply to these regular, significant delayed orthostatic hypotension events – so there’s no need to panic that every wave of light-headedness indicates a serious problem.

If you are concerned, or experiencing more frequent bouts of dizziness, always speak to your GP to get things checked out, just in case. In the meantime, here are eight ways to help keep dizzy spells at bay.

HYDRATE:

Even mild dehydration can affect your balance and induce light-headedness. Aim to drink six glasses of water a day, and always carry a bottle of water.

REST AND RECUPERATE:

If you get hit by a wave of dizziness, sit down immediately so you don’t have a fall. If you are experiencing vertigo, lying down on your side can help everything shift back into focus. Take your time when standing up, and if you are feeling faint or dizzy, relax.

DRUGS:

Extreme dizziness, or vertigo, is not always related to heights, in fact, in most cases it is related to an inner ear infection, labyrinthitis. For people who regularly suffer from vertigo, doctors may prescribe benzodiazepine to calm the central nervous system and antiemetics, which prevent nausea.

RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN:

If your dizziness is linked to an inner ear problem that knocks you off balance, vestibular rehabilitation therapy can be an option. Using a series of exercises, it’s a method of teaching your central nervous system to compensate for the deficit in the inner ear. 

STRESS LESS:

Stress and anxiety are often linked with dizziness. If you feel like you’re about to start panicking, sit down. That way, if you do faint you won’t hurt yourself. Take deep breaths to steady your heart rate and have a sip of water until it passes.

SUGAR HIT:

If your blood sugar levels are running low, you will become more prone to a dizzy spell. Make sure you’re eating regularly, and have snacks on hand for an extra boost if you feel like you’re flailing.

BOOST B12:

A lack of the vitamin B12 can lead to low blood pressure and feeling off-balance. Invest in a supplement, and make sure there’s enough meat, dairy products, and fortified breakfast cereals in your diet – all good sources.

THINGS TO AVOID:

Bright lights, alcohol, hunger and loud, grating noises can all exacerbate an attack of dizziness.


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