Medical News Today: Does menopause cause dizziness?

Menopausal dizziness is normal and does not usually indicate a medical problem. However, unexplained dizziness should be discussed with a doctor because the symptom can be a sign of something more serious.

Women are more likely to experience dizziness during menopause, possibly due to the aging process and changes in hormone levels. Dizziness is not a disease but a symptom of something happening inside the body.


This article discusses the potential causes and treatment of menopausal dizziness. 





What causes dizziness during menopause?


Researchers are still not clear about the link between dizziness and menopause. Here are some possible explanations:


Hormonal changes


woman suffering from dizziness
Changes in hormone levels may be a cause of dizziness during perimenopause.


Menopause symptoms appear during perimenopause, the transition to menopause. This phase begins when periods become irregular.


Perimenopause lasts 4 to 8 years until menstruation has completely stopped for a year and menopause is complete. Women typically reach menopause between age 40 and 58.


During perimenopause, the ovaries decrease their productions of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for maintaining the reproductive system.



These hormones also play a role in the activity of other organs, including the brain, the heart, and the pancreas.


Sudden drops and changes in fertility hormone levels can lead to dizziness by impacting the following:


The inner ear


The brain senses balance through the otoconia, an organ of the inner ear made up of tiny crystals called otoliths.


At least one study demonstrates a link between estrogen loss and a weakening of the otoconia in females experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a disorder defined by episodes of dizziness that occur during movement.


Metabolism


The body’s metabolic system breaks down food into simple sugars called glucose and delivers it to cells, which use the glucose for energy. Estrogen plays a role in maintaining this process.



When the body’s estrogen levels drop, cells throughout the body may not receive enough glucose. This can lead to fatigue and dizziness.


The heart


Hormonal changes during menopause can also lead to heart palpitations, where the heart seems to pound or skip a beat. The irregular heartbeats can trigger dizziness.


The brain


Estrogen helps the brain understand the body’s position in its surrounding environment.


When estrogen levels fall, the brain may become disoriented, leading to a feeling of imbalance or spinning.


Aging


The aging process can cause the inner ear and other body systems to stop working as well as they used to.


This loss of function may be made worse by the hormonal changes associated with menopause.



Indirect causes


Dizziness is sometimes a symptom of a menopause-related condition, rather than a direct symptom of menopause.


Changes in fertility hormones can trigger the following conditions, leading to dizziness:


Insomnia


Hormonal changes associated with menopause can disrupt sleep, causing an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for a full 7 to 8 hours.


Chronic difficulty sleeping, known as insomnia, can hinder brain functions, leading to dizziness.


Hot flashes


Around 75 percent of women in the United States experience hot flashes during perimenopause, where a hot feeling temporarily spreads throughout the face, neck, and upper body.


Hot flashes usually happen during the first 6 months to 2 years of perimenopause and can continue to occur for up to 10 years. Dizziness and disorientation can result from hot flashes.


Migraines


One study found that menopause may encourage epigone migraine vertigo, a migraine headache accompanied by episodes of dizziness.


Anxiety and stress


Worry and panic can increase during menopause due to hormonal changes or midlife events, such as concerns about aging and taking care of elderly parents.


Anxious feelings can culminate in a panic attack, which may include dizziness as a symptom.





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When to see a doctor


doctor talking to female patient
Speak to a doctor if dizziness is restricting daily activities or causing additional symptoms.


Talking to a doctor about dizziness in connection with menopause can help identify its causes and rule out the possibility of vestibular disorders.


These are a class of medical conditions affecting the inner ear or the part of the brain that interprets the senses.


People should contact a doctor immediately if dizziness worsens, persists, or affects daily activities.


As dizziness is common to many conditions, people should mention any additional symptoms they are experiencing to the doctor. This can help provide clues about what is happening inside the body. It is important to include details about the onset of dizziness.


It also helps to indicate the type of dizziness, which can include:


  • Light-headedness: the head feels weightless.

  • Disequilibrium: the ground feels imbalanced or shifting.

  • Vertigo: the surroundings appear to be spinning.

Treatment


Doctors can only treat dizziness by addressing the underlying cause.


Often, women can manage dizziness that comes from a hormonal imbalance related to menopause with lifestyle changes. In some cases, doctors may recommend hormone replacement therapy.


Lifestyle changes


woman writing in notebook
Keeping a journal of daily habits may help to identify what is causing the dizziness.


  • Drink plenty of water: Drink at least 8 cups of water (64 ounces) throughout the day. Avoid soda, alcohol, and coffee.

  • Eat frequent small meals and snacks: Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day can help maintain blood sugar levels. Choose foods with complex carbs — such as whole grains and vegetables — and lean proteins, such as eggs, chicken, and fish. 

  • Maintain a sleep schedule: To improve sleep, keep a regular bedtime and wake time. Regular exercise, healthful eating, and hydration can also improve sleep.

  • Reduce stress: Regular brisk exercise for at least 150 minutes a week can help reduce stress. Additionally, breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga can improve stress levels. Talk therapy and avoiding triggers of stress may also help.

  • Balance exercises: The American Speech Language and Hearing Association recommend regular balancing exercises to strengthen muscles that support balance.

Keep a journal


The Vestibular Disorders Association recommend maintaining a log of daily habits to help pinpoint factors that trigger dizziness.


A dizziness log or journal can be used to track symptoms, food, activities, and medications. 



Hormone therapy


Hormone replacement therapy can help relieve perimenopause symptoms, including dizziness. This kind of treatment supplements the body’s estrogen or progesterone through oral medications, patches, or injections.


Although its effectiveness is well-documented, hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke.


To lower the risks, doctors have begun prescribing lower doses of hormones for a shorter duration of time.




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Outlook


Menopausal dizziness generally lasts as long as the perimenopausal phase. Once full menopause is reached, the symptoms should stop.


Dizziness is a common symptom of aging and episodes can recur, however.


People should talk to a doctor if dizziness limits daily activities, triggers additional symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, or continues after menopause.

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