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?
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 Meniere'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 and Fainting.
The MEA has more detailed information about the topics covered in this discussion available to download from the website shop:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Menieres’s Disease
- Postural Hypotension
- Light Headedness
- Pulse Rate
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.