Medical Matters > Symptom: Dizziness

ME Essential Spring 2020

Question

I often feel light-headed and unsteady on my feet, and have done so since my ME started about five years ago after a nasty infection. But I’ve recently been having ‘dizzy spells’ where I feel faint, sickly and much more unbalanced. These attacks come on without warning and then settle down. Is this part of ME?

Answer

Dizziness is often reported by people with ME/CFS. It can be caused by postural hypotension (when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure along with blood supply to the brain, when moving from lying/sitting to standing) or a problem with the control centres for balance in the brain and inner ear. However, there are many other causes for dizziness that are not linked to ME/CFS. These include conditions like Menieres’s Disease, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (where attacks are related to head movements), cardiovascular and brain conditions.

When dizziness becomes more persistent, more severe, is accompanied by symptoms such as vertigo (where there is a spinning around sensation) or hearing loss, or changes in your overall health, it’s important to see a doctor for a proper re-assessment. A GP can make an initial assessment of what may be the cause by taking a good history, examining hearing, eye movements and checking blood pressure lying and standing, and, if necessary, refer you to an ear nose and throat department, or a cardiovascular specialist or neurologist, for further assessment and investigation if this is necessary. Treatment of dizziness – which may involve both self-help measures and drug treatments – will depend on the cause.

See also: Dysautonomia.

More information

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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