How do I manage my dizziness?

Dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, disequilibrium and poor balance are all symptoms commonly experienced, especially in the elderly. Not only do these symptoms impair quality of life but it also poses a risk for injury. It may be caused by many different medical conditions. Some conditions may arise from the inner ear, some due to the medication that you use every day.

How do I manage my dizziness?
Polypharmacy – a possible cause of dizziness.

When a patient becomes dizzy or looses balance, falls may lead to head injuries, fractures and bruising. Vertigo, whilst driving vehicles or operating heavy machinery may lead to accidents and injury of others.

The psychological effect and fear of injury may have a negative effect on the quality of life. Avoidance of certain conditions like shopping or driving may follow.

When you experience any of these symptoms it is important to realize that it is common, often reversible and in the majority of cases not serious.

If the cause is not known or the symptoms becone unavoidable and a problem, the best advise is to seek the opinion of your general practitioner (GP). Common conditions leading to dizziness include blood pressure problems, blood sugar, thyroid conditions and medication. The majority of the conditions can be managed by the GP. It is always advisable to have a good relation with your GP and that your medical conditions and treatment are known and documented.

A common cause of dizziness and balance disorders is polypharmacy. It is defined as the condition in which a patient, usually the elderly over 65 years, uses 4 or more different medications. It is estimated that 40 % of the elderly living in their own homes may suffer from this condition. The effects, side- effects and interaction of the medications may all contribute to the symptoms. Your GP is the best person to help avoiding polypharmacy.

When neurological symptoms like headaches, convulsions, tremors, weakness, double vision or hearing loss are present, consultation with a neurologist, ENT surgeon or neurotologist may be required. The best advice however is to always start with the GP who will order the necessary tests and arrange the appropriate referral to specialists.