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Surprising Conditions That Cause Dizziness in Seniors

senior with confusion

If you’re in charge of a senior living community, you probably devote the majority of your time to keeping your residents safe. One of the best things you can do is monitor your residents for signs of dizziness, since a dizzy spell could lead to a fall that could, in turn, result in a significant injury. You might expect dizziness to result from inner ear problems, circulation issues, or certain medications, but there are actually quite a few other conditions that can cause someone to feel dizzy. To help you prevent dizziness-related accidents from occurring, we’ve put together a list of some surprising conditions that can cause dizziness in seniors.

What Does It Mean to Feel Dizzy?

Before getting into what causes seniors to feel dizzy, it may help to clarify exactly what the term dizziness refers to. Many people think of dizziness and vertigo as being the same thing, but that’s actually not the case. Vertigo, which is the feeling that your surroundings are either spinning or moving around, is a type of dizziness. However, dizziness may also refer to the feeling of being:

  • Faint
  • Weak
  • Lightheaded
  • Woozy
  • Unsteady

Dizziness may also cause a person to feel nauseated, and in some cases may be so severe that he or she has to either sit or lie down. While some dizzy spells may be over in a matter of seconds, others can last for days.

Surprising Causes of Dizziness in Aging Adults

Anxiety

Anxiety is a fairly common problem among the aging population. In fact, according to Mental Health America, between 3% and 14% of older adults meet the criteria for a diagnosable anxiety disorder. And keep in mind that that just refers to diagnosable disorders—the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has also reported that more than 27% of older adults under the care of an aging service provider have symptoms of anxiety that significantly impact their functioning, even if their condition doesn’t amount to a diagnosable disorder. Certain anxiety disorders—such as panic attacks and agoraphobia—can cause someone to experience dizziness.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Many seniors today are living with diabetes. According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 26.8% of adults aged 65 and older have diabetes, compared to 10.5% of the total population. Hypoglycemia, which often occurs among diabetics who use insulin, can lead to dizziness.

Dehydration

When compared to the younger population, seniors have a higher chance of becoming dehydrated. There are a number of reasons for this increased risk. For example:

  • The thirst response weakens as a person grows older.
  • The amount of fluid in a person’s body decreases with age.
  • Certain health conditions and medications common among aging adults can increase the amount of water lost during urination.
  • When older individuals have mobility issues, it can be more difficult for them to get water and other fluids.

Along with various other symptoms, dehydration can cause a person to experience dizziness.

Spine Conditions

Certain neck problems—including arthritis, cervical spondylosis, and herniated disks—can cause a type of dizziness known as cervical vertigo. Dizziness occurs when these conditions prevent blood from flowing to the inner ear and the brain stem. Because so many seniors experience age-related spinal degeneration, it’s important to keep an eye out for resulting dizziness among your residents.

Migraines

Migraines tend to not be as common among older adults as they are in younger individuals. However, elderly individuals who continue suffering from migraines as they age may also experience dizziness as a related symptom. In fact, approximately 40% of migraine patients experience vertigo. Seniors may not initially connect their dizziness with their migraines, since dizziness often doesn’t begin until months or even years after the onset of other migraine symptoms. And in some cases, migraine-associated vertigo can occur separate from a migraine headache.

In-Home Dizziness Treatment for Seniors

medical team in the home

If one of your residents is feeling dizzy, you can get the help you need from DispatchHealth. We’re a premier mobile healthcare provider, and we’re pleased to offer in-home care for dizziness and a number of other conditions affecting seniors. We offer affordable rates—especially when compared to the exorbitant price of an emergency room visit—and we’ll even provide you with a detailed report of our services once treatment is complete.

Contact DispatchHealth today by phone, on our website, or through our mobile app to request a visit.

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/diagnosed-undiagnosed-diabetes.html 
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/cervical-vertigo 
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-of-dehydration-in-elderly 
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/symptoms-causes/syc-20371787 
  5. https://www.mhanational.org/anxiety-older-adults 
  6. https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/coping-managing/migraine-in-later-life/
  7. https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/blog/eye-ear/5-things-about-hearing-and-balance/