Why Do I Feel Dizzy?

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Question: Why Do I Feel Dizzy?

Answer: The reason you feel dizzy may be related to your menstrual cycle. Dizziness is a sensation that often makes people feel off balance like the room is spinning. You may notice these symptoms more intensely when getting up quickly from sitting or lying down. You may actually lose your balance.

One of the most common causes of dizziness in menstruating girls and women is iron-deficiency anemia.

If you have an average menstrual flow you lose about 30 cc or roughly about two tablespoons of blood every month. Usually, that is not enough blood loss to cause symptoms unless you already have an underlying condition causing you to be anemic. On the other hand, if you have really heavy periods month after month it is possible for you to become anemic just from your menstrual blood loss.

Blood loss whether it is chronic or acute can result in iron deficiency anemia. When you bleed you lose red blood cells. Your red blood cells or RBCs are the cells in your body that carry oxygen. Your brain is very sensitive to even the smallest changes in oxygen concentrations in your blood. When your brain senses this relative lack of oxygen you likely will become dizzy. When you are anemic increases in your activity that take blood flow away from your brain and into your muscles will cause you to be dizzy.

In a way, this is an alarm by the brain to get you to stop what you are doing so it will get more oxygen. Acute or quick blood loss will usually cause more symptoms because the body doesn't have time to make other adjustments to compensate for the loss of the oxygen carrying RBCs. If your blood loss is more chronic or slower over time it might take longer for you to notice the symptoms of anemia especially the dizziness.

Dizziness is also a symptom of several other diseases and conditions. These include balance disorders, ear problems, stroke, motion sickness, a sudden drop in blood pressure, or dehydration

Dizziness is also a  possible side effect of many different types of OTC and prescription drugs. These drugs include medications for high blood pressure, asthma and other breathing problems, heart diseases, pain, sedatives, and drugs used to treat ADHD and other mental health conditions. Talk to your doctor right away, if you suspect that a drug is causing dizziness. Never suddenly stop taking any drug without your doctors’ approval.

Fortunately, most instances of dizziness resolve themselves without medical intervention. However, if you experience dizziness often contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Contact your doctor immediately, if

  • you’ve never experienced dizziness before,
  • your symptoms change for the worse
  • dizziness interferes with your daily routine,
  • you experience hearing loss.

Updated by Andrea Chisholm MD

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