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  • Writer's pictureAdvanced Physical Therapy and Fitness

What is dizziness?

The frequency or chance that an individual will come across an episode of dizziness increases with age. It is estimated that upwards of 80% of individuals over the age of 65 have reported cases of dizziness. The term “dizziness” is a very broad and non-specific term. There are several causes for the sensation of dizziness and depending on the cause, the treatment will differ.

Below are a few of the many versions of “dizziness” some of which can be addressed through physical therapy.

Cardiovascular: sudden or large changes in blood pressure can cause feelings of dizziness, in this case, individuals often report “dizziness” as feeling lightheaded or disoriented. When taking a look into cardiovascular causes of dizziness, orthostatic hypotension is commonly observed. Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a sudden drop in blood pressure when going from sitting or lying to standing.

Neurological: Certain disorders such as multiple sclerosis can have an effect on the nerves of our blood pressure regulation system.

Visual: Changes in acuity or your brain's ability to process visual information may also have an impact on processing your surroundings. This often leads to depth perception deficits which may cause sensations of dizziness.

Vestibular: This particular system can often be the culprit to individuals with complaints of dizziness. In this particular case, what individuals may describe as dizziness is often confused with vertigo. Vertigo is the sensation of your surroundings spinning in a particular direction with difficulty to gaze. This particular event is a result of a dysfunction in the inner ear. This particular form of dizziness can be directly addressed through physical therapy interventions.

Alcohol: With the consumption of large volumes of alcohol, certain physiological changes occur that can lead to dizziness or “spins”. This is due to the alcohol impacting the composition of the fluids found in your inner ear that help you to determine the position in space.

When it comes to dizziness, the most important thing to realize is the fact that the sensation of feeling dizzy is not a normal occurrence and should not be expected as part of the aging process.

So the next time you are feeling dizzy, ask yourself a few basic questions…

  • “How would I describe this dizziness?”

  • “Do I have a history of cardiac or neurological disease?”

  • “Do I consistently get dizzy from standing after lying down?”

  • “Is the room spinning?”

Figuring out what type of dizziness you may be experiencing is the first step in finding out how to address the issue. Our physical therapists have the skill set to guide you through this process.

Ryan Chakir, PT, DPT


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