Did you know there is a difference between lightheadedness and dizziness? If you are in perimenopause or menopause, you may be experiencing one or both of these symptoms. Let’s explore lightheadedness here; dizziness is covered elsewhere.
What is lightheadedness?
If you are lightheaded, your body may feel heavy and you feel like you might faint. You also may feel unsteady, nauseous, and sweaty. Dizziness is when you feel as if the room is spinning and you are off balance.
Lightheadedness can be caused by a number of factors. The most common reason is orthostatic hypotension, in which your blood pressure drops suddenly when you quickly stand up from a lying or sitting position. This occurs because blood is temporarily diverted from your brain to your body. Other possible causes include dehydration, low blood sugar, middle ear problems, side effect of some medications, a panic attack, anemia, or loss of a great deal of blood.
How is lightheadedness associated with menopause?
Hormonal changes are the reason for most cases of lightheadedness in perimenopause and menopause. Estrogen and progesterone, for example, have a role in regulating blood sugar levels. When levels of these hormone drop, so can blood sugar, which in turn can result in lightheadedness.
Hormone fluctuations also can have an impact on your inner ear, which then can affect balance. A factor contributing to lightheadedness is fatigue, which is a common complaint among women in menopause. Lack of sufficient sleep and brain fog can lead to lightheadedness.
How can you manage lightheadedness naturally?
Managing lightheadedness involves more self-awareness and adopting some lifestyle habits. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- If you are prone to orthostatic hypotension, get up slowly after lying down or sitting. This is especially important when you first get up in the morning or when rising from a nap or lying in the sun.
- Limit or avoid use of alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco.
- Stay well hydrated, especially when exercising or in hot environments.
- Get adequate sleep. If you suffer with insomnia, check out these better sleeping tips.
- If you feel faint, sip on a beverage with sugar or suck on a hard candy. You could be experiencing a drop in blood sugar
- Limit your salt intake. Don’t add salt to your food, and instead try herbs for flavor.
- If you are taking any medications, talk with your doctor about whether they may be causing lightheadedness
When to see your doctor
If episodes of lightheadedness persist for a week or more or if you experience any of the following symptoms as well, consult with your doctor:
- Weakness or numbness on one side
- Chest pressure
- Breathing problems
- Pain in your neck, jaw, or arm
- Slurred speech
- Severe headache
- Vision changes
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
Episodes of lightheadedness can result in fainting and possibly injury. Be self-aware and take healthy steps to manage and reduce lightheadedness.