Dizziness that can't be explained. Any ideas?
May 21, 2009 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I woke up feeling dizzy this morning, but the doctor can't find anything wrong. Any ideas? Read on for more info.

Woke up this morning feeling dizzy. Not terrible, but I tended to veer to the left a little when walking, and the room swam a little when I sat down.

Went to the doctor, who looked in my ears, and took my blood pressure, and looked down my throat, but found nothing wrong. We discussed that my gums had been bleeding, so I visited the dentist too a little later, and he found nothing wrong.

I've had dizziness when lying down at night for a few years now, and it comes and goes. If I turn over onto my left side, I sometimes get a spell of dizziness. But this is the first time I've had it during waking hours, as it were.

I've just taken my BP and it's 130/83. I regularly monitor BP because hypertension runs in the family, and it's usually around the 120/80 range. I'm a 36 yo male.

The only thing perhaps worth mentioning is that my right eye is a constant source of trouble for me. I get quite a bit of what I call eyestrain, but really is just irritability. This can start at 9am in the morning on some days. Sometimes when it's bad I find it easier just to close that eye when reading. When I last saw the optician he said it was nothing to be worried about (I have glasses for astigmatism in that eye). The doctor also looked into it a few years ago and said it was nothing.
posted by deeper red to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm, this may have nothing to do with your issue, but when its allergy season for me I get very very dizzy in the same way you seem to be. My nose doesn't run and I don't seem to have normal allergy symptoms like other people. Taking allergy medicine that I have to snort (flonase, etc) usually fixes things, whereby Claritin and other pill medicine does not. Good luck.
posted by Unred at 9:24 AM on May 21, 2009

First of all, low blood pressure is a lot more prone to make you dizzy than high blood pressure.

Could you possibly have an inner or middle ear problem? Many problems are not visible to a general practice doctor on physical exam. Meniere's disease and benign proximal positional vertigo come to mind.
posted by MorningPerson at 9:28 AM on May 21, 2009

You might want to get your ears re-checked. The last time I had vertigo/dizziness problems it was an inner ear infection.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:31 AM on May 21, 2009

Response by poster: Unred, yes I have allergies. I will try the nose sprays you mention. Thanks.
posted by deeper red at 9:31 AM on May 21, 2009

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can very well be it. I get it (I assume) sometimes. You can actually move the crystals around some to make the dizziness go away.
posted by Vaike at 9:33 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

This recent article from Ladies' Home Journal is actually a very effective overview of some of the causes of unexplained dizziness. I work for a nonprofit that focuses on vestibular (inner ear) balance disorders and agree with MorningPerson that unexplained dizziness should be evaluated by a specialist given that your GP is unable to pinpoint a diagnosis.

If your doctor doesn't have a referral suggestion and you need help finding a specialist, my group has a provider directory that may be useful to you, as well as information on the various causes of dizziness. Best of luck finding a solution to your problem.
posted by melissa may at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I experience what Valke suggests above (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) with some frequency, and it sucks... just random, unexplained dizziness for varying lengths of time. If that turns out to be the case there's actually physical therapy you can do.
posted by ORthey at 9:52 AM on May 21, 2009

It sounds like it could definitely possibly be BPPV, especially since you said you're experiencing the dizziness with changes in the position of your head (laying-to-sitting, sitting-to-laying, rolling over). I went to a physical therapist in the ENT office, and she had me do a few physical maneuvers to put the crystals back in place, and within a few days I was as good as new. She also said that she wouldn't want people to try doing the maneuvers without professional guidance, because they could possibly make it worse. See an ENT.
posted by scarykarrey at 10:09 AM on May 21, 2009

I was going to suggest allergies, as well. My biggest allergy symptom is sinus problems which often manifests as facial pressure behind the eyes (which can sometimes make my eyes feel tired, maybe like your eye strain?) and dizziness/vertigo. My sinuses are often stuffier when laying down and first thing in the morning after I wake up. I don't like the idea of squirting things up my nose, so I take Sudafed - the real, behind the counter kind - to relieve the pressure.
posted by geeky at 10:29 AM on May 21, 2009

You might want to go back to the doctor and have a blood test done. I had something similar happen where I was just dizzy ALL day, and it really freaked me out. I went to the doctor and after checking blood pressure and such told me "Don't stand up so fast." Oh thanks so much, Doc.

I asked him to do a blood test for anemia, since I'd had a doctor mention that in the past. And it turned out I was extremely anemic. And from my understanding it's really easy to go undiagnosed. I think Bleeding gums can also be a symptom (though it can be a symptom for a LOT of things, so grain of salt there).
posted by Caravantea at 10:30 AM on May 21, 2009

Nthing Flonase dramatically improved my dizziness and sinus problems.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2009

Dizziness can mean just about anything, and is a different symptom for different people. For some people it means vertigo--a sensation of movement when you are not moving--for others it means feeling like you're about to pass out, and for others it means a general feeling of malaise and "not feeling right."
posted by gramcracker at 11:25 AM on May 21, 2009

I'm surprised that a primary care doctor wouldn't have thought of BPPV. Did your doctor try taking your head between his hands and sort of swooping you down onto the exam table?

Anyway, I had this about 4 years ago; the physical maneuvers didn't help me; it lasted for about a month and then went away, I guess when the crystals settled back into place. Kind of a drag but no big deal.
posted by palliser at 11:27 AM on May 21, 2009

Sorry, by "this" I meant BPPV, not "what you have." I don't know what you have, just that it sounds like what BPPV felt like for me.
posted by palliser at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2009

Electrolite imbalance?
posted by semacd at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2009

When I was undergoing a lot of stress and having some sinus problems, I had on and off dizziness for a week or two. I was incredibly scared that something really wrong was happening but I went to the doctor who did the swoopy head-in-hands thing and said it was likely vertigo, gave me some tips for managing it for a while and said to come back if it didn't go away in a week or two (which it did). I found that dramamine helped in the short term, very much.
posted by jessamyn at 12:13 PM on May 21, 2009

Eyestrain? Dizziness? Unsteady walking? Drifting when walking? Closing one eye? Hmmm...

Do you have any of these symptoms as well:

Freaking out in big box stores?
A habit of tilting your head to one side?
Light Sensitivity?
Poor coordination?
Motion Sickness?

You may have vertical heterophoria (link is to Google results), a condition where the images from the eyes are not properly aligned vertically. It can be diagnosed with an eye exam (but not by your regular eye doctor) and corrected with lenses. Not to proselytize, but this diagnosis has been life-changing for me after 15 years of chronic headache and exploring practically every other possible medical cause out there.

This is my optometrist's website. It has lots of good info. People come from out of state to see her; I drive a couple of hours. But her office might also be a resource for finding someone closer to you if this is something you wanted to explore.
posted by not that girl at 12:18 PM on May 21, 2009

When my sinuses are unhappy I get some low-level persistent vertigo from the pressure on my ears.
posted by desuetude at 1:11 PM on May 21, 2009

Are you taking any medications? I just got off a drug that made me dizzy for the last year, and it's 100x worse now that I'm withdrawing from it.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:27 PM on May 21, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everybody for your answers. I can't really mark any as best, because I'm not clear on what the answer is. I intend to try a nose-spray and will take it from there.
posted by deeper red at 12:02 AM on May 22, 2009

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