“Dizzy”, belted out Tommy Roe and his Wrecking Crew. It’s also one of our favourites, describing a surprisingly common menopause symptom! During a dizzy spell, you may experience unexpected light-headedness, disorientation and loss of balance, which although brief can be disconcerting and a big deal for some.
Dizziness may be linked to other menopause symptoms, including: anxiety, tinnitus, insomnia, hot flushes and migraine headaches. Falling oestrogen levels may impact on blood vessels, circulation and the nervous system, affecting the brain and causing dizzy episodes. There are three different types of dizziness: feeling that everything is spinning (vertigo); feeling unsteady or off balance (disequilibrium); or feeling you are going to faint (pre-syncope).
And the good news is…. Dizziness is a common symptom in menopause and should disappear as hormones settle down.
The best ways to deal with dizziness and loss of balance Knowing what to avoid and taking care of yourself through diet, exercise and rest may help.
Lifestyle & wellbeing to help with dizziness and loss of balance
Read the label! Medications, herbal remedies or even Hormone Replacement Therapy can cause dizziness as a side effect. Check labels.
Take warm, rather than hot, showers and baths Hot showers and baths can cause dizziness by raising blood pressure. Warm water can help to relieve it.
Regular exercise Stress is one of the main causes of dizziness in menopause. Exercise may help you deal with this, particularly if hormonal imbalance is adding to the problem. It’s best to avoid sudden movements, such as jumping, or quickly getting up from a lying position, as these cause dizziness and imbalance.
Get outside and breathe Spend time outside filling your lungs with fresh air to prevent dizzy spells. Our sedentary lifestyles mean many of us spend too long reading, watching TV and sitting in front of a computer screen, all activities that can trigger dizziness as there is insufficient oxygen circulating in the body.
Get your Z’s Keep energy levels up throughout the day by making sure that you’re getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. But if you’re prone to dizziness, remember not to get up too quickly from sitting, or lying down. If you're having trouble sleeping then check out our post 10 tips on how to get to sleep and stay asleep.
Relaxation techniques Manage the stress that can cause migraine type headaches and dizziness by practicing a little yoga, tai chi or mindfulness. Controlling your breathing can help calm you down and release tension.
What to eat to help with dizziness and loss of balance
Eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and nutrients may not stop the problem completely, but it certainly won’t do any harm and will benefit your overall health.
Low blood sugar levels may cause dizziness and loss of balance. Eat slow release, low GI foods such as nuts, dried fruit, wholegrain bread, wholegrain porridge oats, celery and peanut butter.
Lean Protein can help to stabilise blood sugars, eat more: skinless chicken, fish, quinoa and barley. Haemoglobin carries oxygen through the body. Low levels can cause dizziness and may be caused by Iron deficiency, eat more: almonds, dates, asparagus, tofu, lentils and leafy green vegetables. Also, possibly caused by Vitamin C deficiency, eat more broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and citrus fruits.
Stay hydrated Try to drink at least one and half litres of water, herbal tea, or non-sugary drinks each day. Juicy fruit and vegetables, full of water, are essential in your diet.
What to avoid to help with dizziness and loss of balance
Cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine Menopause can cause sensitivity to things that haven’t previously caused you any problems. Now, even small quantities of alcohol may make you dizzy as tolerance levels fall! Check out our blog Alcohol & menopause don't mix. 5 'grown-up' alcohol-free drinks to enjoy. Nicotine in cigarettes can have a similar effect, and caffeine drinks may cause anxiety and insomnia contributing to dizzy spells.
Too much junk food Junk food should be saved for rare occasions. It’s loaded with sugars, saturated fats and calories - and light on nutrition. Regularly eating junk foods means that you’re not giving your body the nutrients that it needs, which may impact on the heart’s ability to get blood to the brain as quickly as needed, making you dizzy.
Reduce salt intake There’s lots of advice out there about the dangers of eating too much salt (most of us do!), but a very low salt intake can cause dizziness. NHS Choices say we should eat no more than 6 grams per day.
Supplements worth trying for dizziness and loss of balance
Ginger is used to manage motion sickness. Grate 2cm of fresh ginger into boiling water to make a tea. Gingko Biloba may be effective in dealing with dizziness and vertigo according to the US Mayo Clinic. Black Cohosh may help to calm the nervous system, helping to treat vertigo and dizziness. Herbal supplements can have side effects and interact with other medications. Check with your doctor if they’re safe for you.
When to see your doctor about dizziness and loss of balance
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), symptoms of this type of vertigo are when everything moves when you look up. It happens when small calcium crystals found on nerve endings in the ear dislodge and float into the inner ear canals.
Also known as ‘top-shelf vertigo’, this is the most common cause of dizziness as you age. Symptoms occur on looking up or bending down. They can last from a few seconds to several minutes.
A simple, speedy procedure called the Epley manoeuvre may eliminate symptoms. Usually performed by a doctor or physiotherapist, it involves moving your head into several different positions to shift the dislodged crystals back to their rightful place.
See your doctor If you’re having heavy periods and dizziness. Excessive blood loss may be causing dizziness. See our piece on Irregular, Erratic or Heavy Periods.
NHS Choices say that anti-histamines can be prescribed for short term use to deal with nausea and dizziness caused by vertigo.
Dizziness and balance issues can be symptoms of underlying health condition so don’t assume yours is being caused by hormonal imbalance, seek advice.
And then there’s always HRT….
If you can take HRT there may be a little trial and error involved in finding the right dose, type and method as some women do report dizziness when they start taking it. Otherwise HRT will deal with the root of menopausal dizziness, by restoring hormone levels. The usual caveat here, that HRT is something to be discussed with your doctor. There are pros and cons to taking it.