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What Causes Dizziness in Aging Adults?

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Have you been feeling dizzy recently? It might surprise you to know that dizziness encompasses far more than just the feeling of the room spinning around you (a condition known as “vertigo”). Dizziness also includes feeling faint, lightheaded, woozy, or as if you’ve lost your balance. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably looking for a way to prevent additional dizzy spells from occurring in the future, and to do that, you need to know what causes dizziness in the first place. Here are some of the most common causes of dizziness among aging adults:

Conditions Affecting the Inner Ear

In addition to being responsible for our hearing, the ear plays a critical role in keeping us balanced. The ear’s vestibular system detects movement using sensors, then sends signals along the vestibular nerve to the brain. So, when something happens that affects the inner ear—whether it be an illness or an injury—it can disrupt the vestibular system from operating as it should and cause someone to feel dizzy.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), for example, is one of many conditions affecting the inner ear that can cause dizziness. This condition develops when calcium carbonate crystals from other parts of the ear become dislodged and move into the semicircular canals where the sensors mentioned above are located. The crystals interfere with normal sensation, which leads to a feeling of dizziness. Although BPPV can occur at any age, it’s most common among individuals 50 and older, since the breakdown of crystals can occur naturally with age.

Circulation Problems

It’s very common for older people to experience heart problems. Although some of these issues are preventable, many are simply a result of the natural aging process. And if someone’s heart isn’t pumping enough blood to his or her brain, it can lead to a feeling of dizziness. Some circulation problems to watch out for include:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Heart attack
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Transient ischemic attack

Anemia

Anemia is a fairly common problem among the older population. In fact, the American Society of Hematology has reported that almost 10% of U.S. adults over the age of 65 are anemic. Although many people associate anemia with an iron deficiency, there are various other types of anemia, including vitamin-deficiency anemia, aplastic anemia (which occurs when the body stops producing red blood cells), hemolytic anemia (which occurs when the body starts destroying red blood cells), and anemia resulting from chronic disease. Anemia can lead to a variety of symptoms, including dizziness.

Medications

If you find yourself taking numerous medications on a daily basis, you’re not alone. According to a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll, 89% of U.S. adults aged 65 and older reported that they were currently taking prescription medicine, and 54% reported taking at least four prescription drugs. While these medications are often necessary, many of them can cause dizziness as a side effect, including certain antibiotics, antidepressants, sedatives, tranquilizers, and high blood pressure medications.

In-Home Treatment for Dizziness

If you’re feeling dizzy, the last thing you want to do is drive. Getting behind the wheel while you’re in the midst of a dizzy spell could be very dangerous for you and other drivers on the road. However, in the era of social distancing, it might be difficult to arrange a ride to your doctor’s office. Plus, because older adults are at a higher risk for COVID-19, you may not want to take the chance of being exposed in a waiting room. So, what are you to do?

DispatchHealth has the answer. We’re pleased to offer in-home care for dizziness and a wide array of other conditions affecting adults over the age of 65. Our services are affordable—many patients end up paying the same amount as they would for an urgent care visit, and just a fraction of what they could expect to pay at an emergency room. We accept most major health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer a reasonable flat rate for individuals without insurance.

Contact DispatchHealth today to request a visit—you can do so by calling us, downloading our mobile app, or visiting our website. Once you’ve requested service, we’ll arrive in about one to two hours, and you can relax in the meantime.

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.hematology.org/education/patients/anemia/older-adults 
  2. https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/data-note-prescription-drugs-and-older-adults/ 
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360 
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/symptoms-causes/syc-20371787 
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20370055 
  6. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004006.htm 
  7. https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/blog/eye-ear/5-things-about-hearing-and-balance/ 
  8. https://vestibular.org/article/diagnosis-treatment/types-of-vestibular-disorders/benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv/ 
  9. https://www.webmd.com/brain/dizziness-vertigo
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