Dizziness spells — often called vertigo — can be disabling. It’s hard to maintain a normal life when dizziness can strike at any time and last for hours — job, family, and hobbies all have to be put off when you are affected by dizziness. Just getting around can be a major challenge. You can’t even walk — let alone drive — safely.
Tracking down the cause of your dizziness can help you manage the condition, and, in some cases, guide you to something like a cure that can diminish or even eliminate your dizziness spells. Here are some of the causes of dizziness to consider.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or sometimes TMD) are a common cause of dizziness. As much as 30% of people are affected by this disorder at some point in their lives, although for most people it’s transitory and may not cause serious symptoms like dizziness.
TMJ occurs when there’s a dysfunction in your jaw joint. This dysfunction may cause many potential symptoms, including ear symptoms. These ear symptoms are actually among the most common experienced by people with TMJ, including vertigo, with studies showing that 50-65% of TMJ sufferers reporting the symptoms.
The exact link between TMJ and vertigo is debated, but the complex interconnections between the jaw and the ear provide many possible links. For example, the temporal bone that houses the inner ear is part of the temporomandibular joint. In addition, two of the small bones in the ear have their evolutionary roots as jaw bones and retain several delicate muscle connections. They also interact in several regions of the brain. We don’t know which of these hold the secret to the link. What we do know is that many people with TMJ are misdiagnosed as having other conditions on this list and are given unsuccessful treatments. When their TMJ is treated, their vertigo can reduce or vanish entirely.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
BPPV occurs when one of the body’s balancing mechanisms, the canals in the inner ear, has its function disturbed by small stony crystals. The labyrinthine canals require the free movement of fluid in the ear, and the crystals displace the fluid, which causes the canals to give improper signals about the position of the head and body.
This condition is most common in people over the age of 60. It may also be linked to head trauma or to dehydration. But in many cases, there is no cause detected for the condition.
Following a proper diagnosis of BPPV, you may be taught what is known as the Epley maneuver, which allows you to reposition the crystals out of the canals. This maneuver has a more than 90% success rate in treating BPPV.
Anxiety can be linked to dizziness. If you have other anxiety symptoms like feelings of dread, restlessness, palpitations. Typically, you will be aware of your anxiety, in part because you are completely unable to put aside your concerns.
To treat dizziness related to anxiety, you have to treat the anxiety itself. For low levels of anxiety, you can try home remedies such as increasing your activity level and cutting down on stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. For more serious levels of anxiety that interfere with your daily life, it is recommended that you seek professional help.
Low Blood Pressure
We’ve probably all experienced a lightheaded feeling after rising. If it happens to you a lot, you may have low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can be a chronic condition, but it can also be related to dehydration. Make sure you stay hydrated, and talk to your doctor about your blood pressure.
Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t have enough iron to make red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. When the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen it can make you feel dizzy. Other symptoms of anemia include fatigue and pale skin.
You may develop anemia if you’re not getting enough iron in your diet or if your body isn’t processing it properly. Dietary changes can sometimes help, but other times you may need special treatment.
Infections in the ear can cause inflammation of the ear canals that help you with balance. When these become inflamed, they can lose their ability to give good information about your position, causing vertiginous sensations.
Resolving the infection is the way to treat this. Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, but with viral infections, we can only control the symptoms and let it pass.
Meniere’s disease is an affliction of the ear that causes many related symptoms, including ringing in the ear, hearing loss, sensations of ear fullness, and ear pain. This is caused by excess fluid pressure in the ears. Dietary changes, exercise, and medications may help.
Many people diagnosed with Meniere’s disease actually have TMJ. When TMJ is treated, the Meniere's disease symptoms resolve.
Is Your Treatment Not Working?
If you are currently undergoing treatment for dizziness, and it’s not working, TMJ may be the cause of your condition. To learn whether TMJ treatment can help with your dizziness in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.