Can dehydration lead to vertigo?


March 23, 2024


Can dehydration lead to Vertigo?

Can dehydration lead to vertigo? If you’re dehydrated, you may start to feel dizzy, lightheadedness, wooziness, fairness and unsteadiness. You may also experience a very specific form of dizziness called vertigo. If you’re dealing with vertigo, you may feel like everything around you is spinning. A feeling of floating, swaying, and tilting can accompany this. It’s also possible that you feel nauseous, worsening of symptoms upon standing or moving and the need to sit or lie down.

You’ve probably heard nearly 60% of your body weight is water? Which is why water is so crucial to our overall health and well-being. However, when you lose more water than you take in, it can lead to dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, your body cannot perform some of the most basic tasks, like breathing and digestion. Most people think a lack of water intake causes dehydration, but there are several things that can contribute to you becoming dehydrated including: 

  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • sweating from exercise or hot weather

Determining if you’re dehydrated is the first step to preventing vertigo, so it’s important that you’re able to identify dehydration.

If you’re suffering from dehydration, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst:
    You should never ignore thirst—this is your body telling you that it needs more fluids.
  • Lack of urination:
    During dehydration, your body will try to get your kidneys to start retaining fluids. When this happens, you will most likely need to urinate less often.
  • Dark urination:
    A sign of good hydration is clear or pale yellow urine; however, when you’re becoming dehydrated, your urine will become darker as it becomes more concentrated.
  • Fatigue:
    When you’re dehydrated, it becomes more difficult for your body to perform its normal functions. As a result, you may notice yourself feeling more lethargic or tired than you normally do.
  • Constipation:
    Any time you eat, your colon is the organ responsible for absorbing water from your food. When your body is lacking fluids, it’s likely that your stools will become harder, causing you to become constipated.
  • Headache:
    One of the most common signs of dehydration is a headache. In most instances, you can relieve your headache by drinking water.

If you believe that you’re feeling dizzy because of dehydration, there are several steps you should take to help relieve your symptoms.

  • Rehydrate:
    Foremost, you need to replace the fluids you’ve lost as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is to drink plenty of water. To help restore lost electrolytes, sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions are a great option.
  • Grab a seat:
    If you’re standing while dizzy, you are at risk of falling. That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down until you feel like your dizziness has passed. Once you start feeling better, it’s usually safe to slowly stand up again.
  • Take it slow:
    Even after you feel like your dizziness has passed, continue to move slowly to minimize your risk of falling. When necessary, grab a hold of something to help keep your balance.
  • Stay away from some activities:
    Anytime you’re feeling bad, specifically when you’re feeling dizzy, avoid driving, operating machinery or climbing on anything high. Not only does this put you at risk of danger, it puts others at risk too.

While most vertigo caused by dehydration will pass on its own, there are certain situations where you may need to seek medical attention.

For instance, if you notice an increase in your heart rate, feel confused or disoriented, or have difficulty walking, you should see a doctor. It’s also important to get medical care for diarrhea or vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours.

If your dehydration becomes severe enough, it is possible that you could develop urinary and kidney problems, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, seizures or even a life-threatening condition called hypovolemic shock.

As noted, you should never drive yourself while dizzy. Always ask someone else to drive you to get medical attention or call 911 if your symptoms are severe enough.

The key to avoiding vertigo from dehydration is to prevent dehydration altogether.

There are several steps you can take to make sure you’re staying well hydrated.

  • Drink plenty of water: 
    It should go without saying that getting enough water is crucial to staying hydrated. While there aren’t specific numbers you need to hit each day when it comes to your water intake, a good rule of thumb is eight glasses of water a day.
  • Have water nearby: 
    Keeping a glass or bottle of water nearby at all times is a great way to make sure you stay hydrated. This is extra important any time you’re working out, in hot weather or doing an activity that makes you sweat more than normal.
  • Stay hydrated when you’re sick: 
    Even though it’s important to drink plenty of fluids regularly, you need to focus on this even more when you’re sick—especially with fever, vomiting or diarrhea.

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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