Medical Causes of Dizziness
Certain medical causes that can contribute to dizziness which are not non-vestibular.
Some examples of medical causes that can contribute to dizziness include electrolyte imbalances. Sometimes electrolyte imbalances are cause for seeking emergency care.
Problems with the liver and kidney are medical causes that can contribute to dizziness. Also, thyroid disease and parathyroid disease may cause dizziness.
Infections, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), can contribute to dizziness.
The UTI can cause low blood pressure, resulting in dizziness. Severe UTI can cause muscle weakness, which may cause imbalance or unstable walking in older adults.
Two types of anemia are associated with nutritional deficiencies. They can both contribute to dizziness and are commonly found in vegans.
Low vitamin B12 levels have been associated with a “drunken sailor” gait pattern and may resolve with B12 supplementation.
Low iron levels can cause anemia and dizziness, and may require nutritional support as well.
These types of anemia are both medical causes that can contribute to dizziness and lightheadedness.
Blood sugar levels that are fluctuating may be a sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes, which is another medical cause of dizziness.
Respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and blood pressure problems are further examples of medical causes that can contribute to dizziness.
Bloodwork Can Detect Many Medical Causes
The good news is that many of these medical causes that can contribute to dizziness will be detected by labs, or bloodwork, initially run by your primary care provider (or at the emergency room).
For example, fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c are useful tests to determine if blood sugar levels are causing dizziness.
The possibility that you could have a medical cause of dizziness is one of the reasons that notifying your primary care provider is an important initial step for all patients with a new complaint of dizziness or vertigo.
Most primary care providers will order labs, or bloodwork, as part of an initial work up for dizziness. This bloodwork can help identify any medical causes that are contributing to dizziness.
Some medical causes will not show up on any bloodwork. To identify, they may require a physical exam, additional diagnostic testing, or referral to a specialist.
Medical Problems may be a Deeper Root Cause
Sometimes, a medical problem may be a deeper root cause of the dizziness.
For example, eustachian tube dysfunction may be discovered by your primary care provider, ENT, or Otoneurologist. Patients with eustachian tube dysfunction may experience dizziness.
One type of eustachian tube dysfunction, called “obstructive,” can be caused by medical problems like environmental allergies, sinusitis, or acid reflux. Those may be underlying medical conditions contributing to dizziness and therefore must be managed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Even psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression, may be a deeper root cause of dizziness. These mental health issues may need to be addressed for a full recovery.
This article discusses only a few medical causes that can contribute to dizziness. If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, consult with your primary doctor.
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If you are interested in how bladder problems can cause dizziness, click here.
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Also, keep in mind that your primary care provider may not be comfortable assessing your vestibular health. You may also have to consult a Vertigo Doctor at some point in your journey to recovery.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.