Dizzy spells can be a symptom of a wide range of medical conditions and are particularly associated with aging. One study suggests that 30 percent of individuals aged 60 and over experience dizziness. Conditions associated with dizziness can be relatively minor, such as ear infections, to much more serious, like dementia.
Anyone who experiences persistent dizzy spells should always consult a doctor. Dizzy spells could be a risk factor for more serious health issues, such as the following four conditions.
A stroke is the result of a reduced or interrupted flow of blood to the brain. Without the nutrients and oxygen delivered by the blood, the brain begins to die. The onset of a stroke can be very rapid, and requires immediate treatment.
The symptoms of a stroke can vary depending on the severity and area of the brain that sustains damage. Unfortunately, this means it is sometimes difficult to recognize or even diagnose a stroke. Some common symptoms include:
- Sudden weakness
- Sudden loss of sensation
- Difficulty with speech
- Decreased vision
- Inability to walk or move normally
Dizziness is another possible symptom of stroke, but because it can be associated with so many other conditions, it is often not recognized for what it is. Luckily, diagnostic methods for strokes have advanced in recent years.
A simple eye movement test using a portable device can diagnose strokes with 100 percent accuracy, which can effectively rule out stroke in patients experiencing dizziness.
Dementia is not one specific disease or condition, but a group of conditions associated with a decline in memory and cognitive ability. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s disease, but many other conditions can cause symptoms of dementia, some as relatively minor as thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies.
The symptoms associated with dementia can lead to increased difficulty in navigating day to day life, sometimes to the point of requiring constant monitoring and assistance. In addition to memory lapses, some other areas that can be affected include:
- The ability to communicate
- The ability to focus attention on a particular task
- Reasoning and judgment skills
- Visual and auditory perception
Recent research suggests that dizziness can be a sign that an individual is at risk for dementia. Those who experience regular or prolonged dizzy spells should consult their doctors, as this could indicate an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Fortunately, recent technological advances have seen a rise in medical alert and tracking systems for Alzheimer’s patients.
Anemia is a serious condition associated with an insufficient amount of red blood cells and the protein hemoglobin. Red blood cells and hemoglobin carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. However, without enough of these, the body’s tissues don’t receive sufficient oxygen. Although frequently caused by lack of iron, other possible causes of anemia include:
- Inherited disorders
- Heavy periods
- Some types of cancer, such as colon cancer
Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms of anemia, along with fatigue, sensations of feeling cold, shortness of breath, and headaches. Elderly individuals are especially susceptible to anemia, which is why it’s important to visit the doctor for testing when experiencing dizzy spells.
Individuals who experience regular or prolonged dizzy spells are at higher risk of falling. Even without dizziness, elderly individuals are susceptible to falling due to weakened bones and muscles caused by aging.
Furthermore, the effects of aging make serious and life-threatening injuries more likely, especially if an individual cannot get back up after a fall.
For this reason, falls are the leading cause of death among individuals aged 65 and over. Those at a higher risk of falling could benefit from medical alert systems that include a fall detection feature.
Steps to Take
Elderly individuals are in the most potential danger when experiencing regular or prolonged dizzy spells. Even if the cause is relatively minor and not a sign of a more serious condition, the potential damage caused by falling is still a factor.
It is therefore very important that these individuals consult a doctor about dizziness. Some steps can be taken to reduce the risk factors for these conditions and associated injuries. Engaging in mild exercise can help strengthen bones and muscles, thus decreasing weakness that could lead to falls and injury.
A medical alert system can also be worn to ensure that these individuals have access to emergency help immediately after a fall. There are many such systems available, including those with and without an automatic fall sensor.
A reputable site offer medical alert system reviews can offer comparisons of different options.