If you haven’t been partying like a rock star, yet the room is spinning and you have the energy of a sloth — then you may be experiencing dizziness and fatigue.
Dizziness can manifest in many ways. You may feel unsteady, lightheaded, or feel the false spinning sensation of vertigo. Like how you felt when you met the Backstreet Boys in 8th grade (but maybe not so good).
Feelings of dizziness and fatigue have many possible causes, some serious and some not. It’s important to get to the bottom of it though, as it can seriously impact your day-to-day life, and could possibly get you into an accident.
Dehydration is a common cause of dizziness and fatigue. It’s caused by loss of fluids and electrolytes, which often happens in high temperatures, especially while exercising, or perhaps by partying too hard.
It’s important to regularly replace the fluids your body loses.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- less frequent urination
- urine is more yellow than normal
- extreme thirst
Mild dehydration can be treated by drinking water or fluids containing electrolytes, like sports drinks. Severe dehydration requires hospital care and an intravenous drip to directly hydrate the body until it’s back to normal levels.
You’re pregnant — congrats! But dizziness and fatigue are also common symptoms of pregnancy. Your body is adjusting to the changes of carrying a baby and keeping both of you nourished.
During pregnancy, your body experiences circulatory changes that can cause dizziness.
Your heart is pumping more blood than normal and your circulation slows due to hormones that cause your blood vessels to widen and relax. This leads to lower than normal blood pressure, which can trigger dizziness.
As your body expands to accommodate the growing baby, the expanding uterus can cause circulatory changes too, often causing dizziness.
Dizziness and fatigue occur mostly during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. This can be worrisome if you have other symptoms like vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, in which case it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
Your monthly menstrual cycle may be causing you more than mere cramps and food cravings. During your period, the loss of blood can cause you to feel more tired than normal.
Blood loss also contributes to low blood pressure and anemia, a condition resulting from lack of red blood cells. Both are triggers for dizziness and fatigue.
Other signs of anemia include:
- shortness of breath
- ice or clay cravings
- rapid heartbeat
- hair loss and brittle nails
Anemia is a very common condition, but is not caused exclusively by menstrual cycles.
It can occur from blood loss following an injury, surgery, severe and frequent nosebleeds, frequent blood donation, and more. Those with gastrointestinal conditions such as celiac disease are also at risk for anemia.
If your head is hurting — not just hurting, but feels like it’s splitting apart, and the lights are too bright, and it’s impossible to do anything — you’re probably experiencing a migraine.
Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. In addition to dizziness and fatigue, symptoms of migraines include:
- severe head pain
- nausea and vomiting
- light sensitivity
You can experience dizziness and vertigo from a migraine even without the painful headache.
Migraines are often triggered by caffeine, stress, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise. Migraines are also common around your period.
Adjusting your lifestyle accordingly can help keep them away. Over-the-counter pain medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help minimize the symptoms associated with migraines.
If you experience severe head pain and dizziness and you’ve never had these symptoms with a migraine before, you should call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room ASAP.
Maybe you fell and hit your head — you might even feel okay, if a bit dazed. But you should watch for signs of a concussion, as fatigue and dizziness are symptoms of this temporary brain injury.
If you think you might have a concussion, the first thing to do is see a doctor right away. Concussions can be caused by any bump or blow to the head, and signs of the injury can appear minutes or hours later.
Other symptoms of a concussion include:
- a persistent headache
- nausea or vomiting
- short term memory loss
- irritability or mood swings
- changes in your vision — such as blurred vision, double vision, or “seeing stars”
- trouble sleeping
You’re probably familiar with high blood pressure, but abnormally low blood pressure can cause problems as well.
When your heart is pumping blood slower than normal and your circulation slows down, low blood pressure can cause dizziness and fatigue — and in severe cases, shock.
- blurred vision
- difficulty concentrating
Many things can cause low blood pressure, including pregnancy, heart disease, dehydration, and certain medications. Low blood pressure can be treated by hydration, compression garments, consuming more salt, and certain medications.
If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) cause dizziness and fatigue. When experiencing hypoglycemia, the glucose in the blood drops below normal levels.
The mild to moderate symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- jitteriness or shakiness
- blurred vision
- confusion or disorientation
- irritability or nervousness
- trouble concentrating
- fast or irregular heart beat
To quickly boost low blood sugar, consume carbohydrates, such as fruit juice, glucose tablets, soda, or even a full tablespoon of sugar or honey.
Vestibular neuronitis is an infection of the inner ear. Ear infections like vestibular neuronitis can throw off your balance and cause the false sensation of spinning.
The nerve can become inflamed due to viral infections like a sore throat or cold. Think you might have vestibular neuronitis? Here are some of the other symptoms:
- blurred vision
Some medications can also cause dizziness and fatigue. Common medications that treat depression, high blood pressure, and seizures are included.
Talk to your doctor about alternative medications if you believe your medication is causing these side effects.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a chronic illness that severely impacts your ability to engage in life’s daily activities. CFS is more common in people aged 40–60 years old, but it can affect people of all ages.
Common symptoms of CFS are:
- problems sleeping
- decreased ability to do everyday tasks and activities
- problems with thinking and memory
- worsening of symptoms when standing
You should see a doctor if you think you have this illness, as treatment varies for each person.
When you have an abnormal heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmia, your heart beats either too fast or too slow.
There’s many possible symptoms, including:
- fainting or near-fainting spells
- rapid heartbeat or pounding in the chest
- shortness of breath and anxiety
- chest pain or pressure
Treatment options vary by the type of arrhythmia you have. Some require no treatment at all, and some are treated with blood thinners or blood pressure medications.
If you have an arrhythmia, it’s recommended to limit caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, antidepressants, and many other triggers.
If dizziness and fatigue are common occurrences for you, it’s best to see your doctor to figure out what’s causing it. Seek immediate medical care if you experience these severe symptoms:
- chest pain or pressure
- shortness of breath
- irregular or fast heartbeat
- severe headache
There are ways to prevent general dizziness and fatigue. Limit your alcohol and tobacco usage and ensure you’re getting adequate sleep at night.
In other words, if it’s something Mick Jagger was doing in the 70s — avoid it. Instead, channel your inner Gwyneth Paltrow and immerse yourself in hydration and gentle exercise. Namaste.