Dizziness and vertigo are lesser-known symptoms of menopause, but they’re a relatively common complaint. Fluctuating hormones can cause sudden bouts of lightheadedness and imbalance, leaving you feeling unsteady on your feet.
So, if you’re going through perimenopause or menopause and you’re having dizzy spells, you’re not alone. Countless women around the globe are experiencing similar symptoms.
In this article, we’ll find out more about dizziness and vertigo during menopause. Plus, we’ll explore the lifestyle changes and treatment options that can help.
What Are Dizziness and Vertigo?
Dizziness is a general term to describe a feeling of lightheadedness and imbalance. Vertigo, on the other hand, is a distinct condition that causes severe dizziness. A vertigo episode can come seemingly out of nowhere. It feels as if you, or the room around you, is spinning uncontrollably.
Both dizziness and vertigo can happen for a variety of reasons, including standing up too fast, a dip in blood sugar, dehydration, or drinking too much alcohol. But they can also be brought on by hormonal shifts, such as the ones we experience during menopause.
Dizziness and vertigo are not dangerous in and of themselves. However, they can lead to serious injury if an episode strikes at the wrong time, for example, while driving a car or operating machinery.
These attacks can also feel scary. Our sense of balance is something that most of us take for granted. And when it suddenly disappears, it can feel alarming and unnerving and leave us in a state of shock.
How Does Menopause Cause Dizziness and Vertigo?
During perimenopause (the build-up to menopause), our hormones are in a constant state of flux. Estrogen spikes and dips dramatically. And when our estrogen levels are low, it can cause temporary chaos in various bodily processes, including blood pressure and circulation.
Constricted blood vessels mean less blood and oxygen reach the brain. As a result, dizziness and vertigo kicks in.
Alongside the hormonal changes, menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and migraines can also make you feel unsteady, disorientated, and dizzy.
Other Causes of Dizziness and Vertigo
If you’re going through menopause and you’re experiencing bouts of dizziness or vertigo, try not to panic. Chances are, your symptoms are caused by normal hormonal changes in your body. That being said, there are several other potential causes for dizziness and vertigo, including:
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Alcohol and drug use
- Arthritis in the neck and spine
- Internal bleeding
- Certain medications
- Anxiety or panic disorders
- Heart attack
If you’re concerned about dizzy spells or feelings of vertigo, be sure to visit your doctor. They can help you to identify the cause of your symptoms and rule out any underlying conditions.
What Are the Symptoms of Dizziness and Vertigo During Menopause?
Dizziness and vertigo symptoms can appear suddenly. One minute, you might feel steady and balanced, and the next, you’re clinging to the wall, trying to keep yourself from falling.
Episodes of dizziness and vertigo tend to pass quickly. They usually last for less than a minute. Still, they can leave you feeling disorientated and in a state of shock that lasts for several hours or more.
Accompanying symptoms of dizziness and vertigo include:
- Loss of balance
- A feeling of uncontrollable spinning
- Visual disturbances, e.g. blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Muscle weakness
When to See a Doctor?
Most dizzy spells during menopause don’t require medical attention.
That being said, in some cases, dizziness and vertigo could point to an underlying condition. If you’re regularly feeling dizzy, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor.
It’s also helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms. Think about and record what happens when bouts of dizziness come on. For example, are you exercising or getting up in the night to use the bathroom? Have you eaten recently, or do you have an empty stomach?
Keeping notes on how your dizzy spells feel and the circumstances surrounding them can help you and your doctor identify potential triggers and patterns and discover the root cause.
Treatments for Dizziness and Vertigo During Menopause
There are several ways to treat the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo during menopause, including lifestyle changes and medical interventions. Most of these treatments work by addressing the underlying cause of dizziness, which, in most cases, is our hormones.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Combat Dizziness and Vertigo
In some cases, dizziness and vertigo can be improved or even eliminated with a few simple lifestyle shifts. So before you reach for the medicine cabinet, give these tips a try.
- Eat well
Eating a hormone-balancing menopause-friendly diet can have a huge impact on your overall health.
Many menopause symptoms, including dizziness, can be alleviated by cutting out sugary junk food and eating a nutritious diet instead. Focus on fresh vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein, and wholesome complex carbs.
You can also try boosting your intake of phytoestrogens. These plant-based compounds are found in flax seeds, soybeans, and soy products such as tofu and tempeh.
Phytoestrogens mimic the natural estrogens produced by our bodies. So, they’re particularly beneficial for balancing hormones and minimizing dizzy spells.
Dizziness and vertigo can also be a sign of a potassium deficiency. So, be sure to include natural sources of potassium, such as bananas, potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and avocados, into your diet.
Vitamin B12 is another essential component for maintaining proper coordination and balance, and a deficiency can often lead to dizzy spells.
Natural sources of Vitamin B12 can be found in dairy products, eggs, and meat. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you might need to take over-the-counter supplements to keep your levels topped up.
- Drink plenty of water
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of dizziness. A lack of water in our bodies can make it harder for the heart to pump blood and oxygen to the brain. When the oxygen supply to the brain decreases, dizziness is one of the first symptoms to kick in.
- Get your body moving
Getting regular exercise is essential to your overall well-being during menopause. It helps to tackle menopause-related weight gain, manage mood swings, and keep your energy levels high.
But that’s not all. Exercise also balances your hormones. So, if a lack of estrogen is to blame for your dizzy spells, hitting the gym, going for a run, or playing sports regularly can make a big difference.
Experts recommend all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Ideally, this should include some cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, skipping, or playing tennis, and some strength training, such as lifting weights or working out with a resistance band.
If dizzy spells are a regular occurrence for you, start slow. Then, you can gradually build up your workouts at a gentle pace. Always exercise in well-ventilated spaces, and stop if you feel the symptoms of dizziness or vertigo begin.
- Cut out unhealthy habits
We all know that alcohol and tobacco are detrimental to our health. But if you’re suffering from frequent dizzy spells or vertigo, these addictive substances can make your condition much worse.
Inhaling tobacco smoke constricts the blood vessels in your brain, which can immediately trigger a bout of dizziness or vertigo. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a diuretic. So, every drink you take depletes your body of essential fluids. This leads to dehydration and a possible attack of vertigo or dizziness.
Medical Treatments for Dizziness and Vertigo
Menopause-related dizziness and vertigo can often be relieved by simple lifestyle changes such as the ones listed above. But sometimes, the symptoms are so severe that they need a pharmaceutical approach.
If you’re suffering from frequent debilitating bouts of dizziness and vertigo, your doctor may prescribe the following:
- Motion sickness tablets
Prochlorperazine and antihistamines such as cinnarizine, promethazine, and cyclizine are often used to treat nausea that accompanies motion sickness. However, they can also help to alleviate the symptoms of vertigo.
- Migraine medication
Venlafaxine, sold under the brand name Effexor, is a type of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It’s used to treat major depressive disorder. However, it’s also frequently prescribed for migraines that are accompanied by dizziness and vertigo.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, works to treat the underlying cause of menopause-related dizziness by rebalancing estrogen in the body.
But while HRT can provide a myriad of benefits, it also comes with several potentially serious risks. So, it should only be used as a last resort under the careful supervision of your doctor.
Most bouts of dizziness and vertigo come on suddenly, and they typically last for less than a minute. But attacks can be frequent and reoccur for several years during the transition through perimenopause.
Perimenopause lasts for an average of four years. Once you hit menopause and you haven’t had a period for 12 months, your body begins to adjust to the shift in hormones. Only then do the symptoms of menopause, such as dizziness and vertigo, begin to taper off. Eventually, they’ll disappear completely.
Yes. Dizzy spells often occur at the same time as night sweats and hot flashes. In fact, dizziness is a common symptom of a hot flash.
During a hot flash, your heart rate and blood pressure quickly soar, raising your core temperature and sending signals to the sweat glands in your skin. But this sudden shift also decreases the amount of oxygen in the brain. This can lead to dizziness, blurred vision, and shortness of breath.
Stress and anxiety are both associated with menopause. And unfortunately, they can both induce dizziness and vertigo.
General anxiety disorder is usually associated with psychological symptoms such as a sense of dread or fear, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. But the condition comes with several physical symptoms, too, including dizziness.
Dizziness and vertigo are lesser-known symptoms of menopause, but they’re surprisingly common.
Thankfully, lifestyle changes can help to reduce the frequency and severity of dizziness. And in some cases, it can get rid of the problem completely.
However, if lifestyle tweaks aren’t working, or you’re concerned about your symptoms, seek medical advice. Your doctor can help you to understand the cause of your dizzy spells and vertigo. Then, they can recommend a treatment plan that can help.
- Are Vertigo and Dizziness the Same Thing? – Cleveland Clinic
- Dizziness (Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment) | Patient
- Estrogen and vascular function – PubMed (nih.gov)
- The Effect of Dietary Intake on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women – PMC (nih.gov)
- Phytoestrogens: Benefits, Menopause, Side Effects, and Food (healthline.com)
- Low Potassium & Dizziness | livestrong
- 5 Minute Guide to Estrogen Levels and Exercise You Need (flippingfifty.com)
- Hot flashes and heart health – Harvard Health
- Symptoms – Generalised anxiety disorder in adults – NHS (www.nhs.uk)