Many people have felt an uneasy sensation in their head and they describe it as feeling dizzy. But dizziness is a term that means different things to different people.
Zeroing in on the true mechanism of your dizziness determines if you are being properly treated for your underlying problem. Unfortunately, many providers do not take the time to understand a patient’s dizziness before suggesting a treatment.
There are three distinct types of sensations that are commonly referred to as dizziness: (1) vertigo, (2) lightheadedness, and (3) disequilibrium.
Vertigo is the unique sensation of spinning as if one were on a carousel ride at an amusement park. The patient feels as if the room is spinning around them. Vertigo may occur when lying flat or standing, and can be triggered when the position of the head changes from side-to-side (shaking your head “no”).
Vertigo is commonly caused by sinus or middle ear pressure or congestion that is temporary and decongestants will help it go away. Vertigo could also be a problem with the inner ear balance mechanism from an infection or inflammation.
Disequilibrium is the sensation when the floor seems to be gently shifting as if one is standing in a small boat. Disequilibrium people feel like they may fall over. The same problems that can cause vertigo (congestion, infection) and lightheadedness (Autonomic Dysfunction) can also cause disequilibrium.
Lightheadedness is a sensation that feels woozy or like you may pass out if it were to get worse. Lightheadedness does not have the spinning feeling or the sensation of falling over. It may also feel like a head rush, a sudden headache, a sensation of weak legs about to give way or anxiety.
Lightheadedness is often triggered when standing up quickly (called orthostatic hypotension) or when sitting or standing still for several minutes.
Simply put, lightheadedness is from a lack of oxygen to the brain often due to reversible Autonomic Nervous System dysfunction. The Autonomic Nervous System is the brain’s master control network and this is how your brain controls all your cells, organs, hormones, immune system, and blood pressure.
The Autonomic Nervous System is comprised of two main branches that should work together in balance like a seesaw. When you get out of bed in the morning for instance, one branch clamps down and the other releases at the exact same time.
When the Autonomic seesaw works in unison there are no symptoms, but when they no longer are in balance someone feels dizzy, gets a head rush, may fall, or might pass out.
The Autonomic seesaw makes you dizzy because a damaged Autonomic Nervous System cannot correctly push blood upwards against gravity and this results in low brain oxygen levels.
The brain only has a one second reserve supply of oxygen and when the Autonomic Nervous System does not work correctly the brain cells do not function without enough oxygen. The dizziness is an oxygen problem and that is why you feel lightheaded.
The low “brain blood pressure” that results from a dysfunction in the Autonomic Nervous System often does not show up as a low BP reading when the measurement is taken at the arm. Simple blood pressure machines do not measure the brain’s demand for oxygen flow. This is why “low blood pressure” to the brain it is commonly misdiagnosed.
In other words, as your brain screams out for more oxygen the blood pressure reading in your arm will rise as your body pumps harder and harder to supply the oxygen flow to keep your brain from being dizzy.
Ironically, many health care providers do not understand what the raised arm blood pressure number means so they increase your blood pressure medication which results in even less oxygen flow and even more dizziness.
Because they do not take the time to ask a few questions, these health care providers confuse the elevated pressure reading measured at the arm as a sign of the disease Hypertension instead of the effect of low blood pressure to the brain.
People are misdiagnosed and then they are treated with medication they do not need for a problem they do not have, and silently their Autonomic dysfunction progresses.
Surprisingly, lightheadedness may be reversed by adjusting the doses of some common medications. But if you are lightheaded and your general lab tests are normal it may mean your Autonomic Nervous System is not working correctly.
How does the Autonomic Nervous System get damaged? The Autonomic system may be injured through (1) a direct physical injury or trauma (concussion), (2) an indirect injury or intense emotional event (emotional concussion), (3) a metabolic injury (adverse drug reaction, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, heat stroke), or (4) an inflammatory injury (antibiotics, surgery, vaccines, or an overgrowth of intestinal bacteria called “SIBO” that sends disruptive signals to the brain).
The common symptoms of Autonomic dysfunction include being lightheaded or dizzy, syncope (passing out), heartburn, intestinal distress (cramping/constipation/frequent urination), frequent or recurrent headaches, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and chronic hunger.
It disrupts our lives with insomnia, sleep disturbances, and non-restorative sleep cycles. In some people it causes depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Autonomic dysfunction also causes temperature regulation problems, PMS, tingling and numbness (feet, legs, hands, arms, face, neck), ADD, cognitive difficulties, or memory problems.
The blood flow issues with Autonomic dizziness also can cause varicose veins (men and women) and erectile dysfunction.
Autonomic Nervous System damage can be identified, treated, and reversed. I use spectral analysis testing to identify which branch of the Autonomics, the Sympathetic (“fight or flight”) or the Parasympathetic (“rest and digest”), is no longer working in balance in my patients and is causing their dizziness.
Restoring balance between the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branches is not just important for feeling better in the short term, restoring balance is necessary for a long and healthy life.
Autonomic functioning is critical to life expectancy because improved Autonomic function improves heart rate variability (HRV). People with elevated HRV have an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation or heart flutter.
People with low HRV have an increased risk of death from widespread organ and metabolic dysfunction.
If you sometimes feel dizzy but you do not feel like you are on a carousel, keep searching for the right answer because being dizzy from Autonomic dysfunction is a warning sign. Autonomic dysfunction fuels the systemic metabolic inflammation that triggers cellular changes and ignites someone’s disposition for disease (cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc.).
I am a classically trained internal medicine physician (D.O.) from UCLA and my private office is located in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. My research background has been focused on the Autonomic Nervous System, brain metabolism, and metabolic inflammation.
I am a scientist physician who uses all available scientific and medical tools to induce the nervous system and organs to actually repair themselves by normalizing inflammation control mechanisms, inducing natural stem cell production, using vagal nerve stimulation, and re-activating innate restorative mechanisms.
For more information you may call my office at 623-208-4226 or go to my website www.DrBuckeye.com.
© 2016. Dr. Patrick M. Nemechek and Jean R. Nemechek. All Rights Reserved.