There comes a time in every woman’s reproductive life when the production of hormones made by the ovaries begin to vary unpredictably and sometimes dramatically. Perimenopause, and menopause are a natural part of the aging process. Some women transition smoothly through menopause, while others suffer with conditions, such as irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes and anxiety. However, other women may experience intense episodes that affect their quality of life.
Can Dizziness Be a Sign of Menopause?
Researchers have suggested that there is a connection between menopause and dizziness, as vertigo/dizziness can emerge around the time women go through menopause. These women might encounter short abrupt moments of dizziness during menopause that leave them feeling uneasy, even when the episode has ended. The sensation of dizziness can be felt in three ways, a loss of balance, feeling lightheaded/faint, or a sudden sensation that you're spinning.
Why does It Happen?
A person's balance and control centers include the ears, eyes, and sensory nerves, and the body needs at least two of these centers functioning in order to maintain our sense of balance and equilibrium. If these control centers are not functioning properly, or if the brain cannot process the information, the result causes a person to experience dizziness along with a loss of balance and equilibrium.
Sometimes the symptoms of dizziness is the result of hormonal changes, but it can also be attributed to other causes, such as low blood pressure and other cardiovascular changes. Although rare, dizziness and menopause together could be a sign of something more serious that may need some medical attention.
The hormonal changes during menopause may help to explain how menopause and dizziness is connected. During menopause, irregular changes in the level of estrogen may produce changes in your brain, nervous system, and blood vessels. Estrogen has a positive effect on the inner layer of artery walls, and it helps to keep the blood vessels flexible, meaning they can relax and expand to accommodate the flow of blood. Because estrogen production is reduced during menopause you may experience problems focusing with brief periods of dizziness.
Other dizziness symptoms may be attributed to perimenopause or menopause, including;
• Hot flashes or flushes
• Vestibular migraine
• An inner ear disorder (Meniere's disease)
• Anxiety and panic attacks
• Menopausal tendonitis/arthritis (frozen shoulder)
• Hypotension (low blood pressure)
• Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
• Cervical arthritis
• Viral infection
• Cold or flu
• Heart palpitations
When to See a Doctor
Though menopause and dizziness are related, most of time it does not require any medical treatment. What’s important to understand is when it may be necessary for you to see a doctor. Women should contact their health care provider if any of the following conditions are accompanied by dizziness;
• Changes in speech or vision.
• Fainting and/or loss of consciousness.
• Chest pain
• Trouble breathing/hyperventilating
• Persistent vomiting
• Numb or seized joints
• Stiff neck
• Head injury
• Hearing problems (Meniere's disease)
Ways to Relieve Dizziness during Menopause
If you find yourself becoming mildly lightheaded and dizzy when suddenly standing up, it is probably associated with your vascular system becoming sluggish during menopause. Assuming there are no other causes, it is not necessarily dangerous, and if you can tolerate it, slow careful movements might help. Other lifestyle changes may include;
1. Stay hydrated. Due to the excessive sweating brought on by night sweats and hot flashes, women need to drink more water to stay hydrated. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water daily to help to keep yourself well hydrated and free from dizziness.
2. Limit salt. Reducing your salt intake will help control blood pressure, prevent fluid from accumulating in the ears, and reduces your chance of dizziness.
3. Get adequate rest. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep nightly so you are well rested the next day.
4. Take medications. A physician can prescribe certain medications to help alleviate some symptoms. Remember to discuss other medications you are taking with your doctor to help prevent any problems with dizziness.
5. Quit smoking & limit alcohol. Smoking is unhealthy at any age, especially during menopause. When drinking, you may feel an enhanced effect from alcohol that leads to dizziness.
6. Exercise regularly & breathe more fresh air. Daily exercise is paramount for maintaining a healthy body, and helps control a hormonal imbalance. Regular exercise relieves stress which can be a trigger for menopause related dizziness. Try to go get some fresh air if you feel a dizzy spell coming on and remember deep breathing can help calm you down if you begin feeling a panic attack.
7. Hold ears & close eyes. When a woman is experiencing a dizzy spell due to menopause, it can help to hold your ears and to close your eyes. It’s just another way to stop a bout of dizziness before it becomes more serious.
8. Take a bath or shower. There is nothing better to help you become more alert and focused than a hot bath or shower. This sometimes prevents the dizzy spells before they even begin.
9. Get stabilized & focus. If you get dizzy while standing, find a wall or a nearby chair to sit down in. If someone else is around you, ask them for help until the dizzy spell subsides. Reorientation is vital, so try to focus on an object. Any inanimate object will do, with the exception of a ticking clock. This will restore your equilibrium, and help you get back to normal.
10. Avoid mesmerizing activities. Limit your exposure to computer screens, television, and reading for long periods of time, as they may trigger dizziness during menopause.