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Dizziness

What is it? What are the symptoms? What are the treatments?

What is dizziness?

Dizziness is a symptom rather than an illness, and can be an indication of many underlying conditions including dehydration, anaemia, vertigo and other problems.

In pregnancy, dizziness can been caused by a number of different things. In the first trimester, the hormone progesterone may cause your blood pressure to drop, and this can make you feel dizzy and faint. Also, although your blood volume increases by around 40% in pregnancy, your blood vessels will be more lax, meaning your blood flow may become more sluggish than usual. This can leave your brain short of oxygen, causing faintness.

Some mums-to-be experience a depletion of iron in their blood, and this can result in a reduction of blood oxygen. If iron levels drop too low, causing iron deficiency anaemia, dizziness is often a symptom of this too.

From about week 16 of pregnancy, you'll be advised to stop lying on your back (lie on your side instead). This is because the weight of your growing bump could compress a major blood vessel – the vena cava. Not only will this result in dizziness, it can be dangerous for your baby, too.

Low blood-sugar levels can also leave you feeling dizzy or faint.


What are the symptoms of Dizziness?

Lightheadedness, especially on standing up after sitting or lying down; a feeling of faintness; weakness; feeling off balance; a sensation of the room spinning.

What are the treatments and remedies of Dizziness?

Usually, it's a case of sitting down and waiting for the symptoms to pass. If you're feeling dizzy frequently, though, talk to your doctor or midwife, who may be able to find an underlying cause.

If you're anaemic, for instance, you'll be prescribed iron tablets; if you're dehydrated, it might be a simple case of drinking more fluids; if your blood sugar levels are found to be low, you'll need to eat more frequently during the day, concentrating on foods that release their energy slowly.

Children can be susceptible to low blood sugar levels, too, so encourage your child to eat healthy snacks regularly throughout the day, especially after exercise.

Try to get up from sitting or lying down slowly, to allow your blood pressure to normalise more gradually. Gentle exercise can help boost your circulation, but wait until the dizziness has passed in case you fall. If you do have a fall, make sure you see your doctor or midwife, who will check all's well with your baby. Try not to worry in the meantime, though, as your amniotic sac is a brilliant cushion for your baby, so it's unlikely she'll have come to any harm.

Dizziness can also be due to a viral ear infection, which interferes with balance. In this case, giving paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any fever and drinking lots of fluids is usually all that's required.

More serious underlying causes include anaemia or a type of epilepsy, so if you or your child has repeated attacks of dizziness, it's best to speak to a health professional about it.

Further help

For health advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the NHS offers call and web services. You can also visit NHS websites for services, health information and health news at nhs.uk 

  • England – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs.uk 
  • Scotland – call 111 from any landline or mobile phone free of charge, or visit nhs24.com 
  • Wales – call 0845 4647 , or visit nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk 
  • Northern Ireland – visit hscni.net

 

Dizziness