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My Head Won’t Stop Spinning!

By: Sheila Borgen, PT

Man seeing his shadow in multiple variations almost like an optical illusion

Round and round and round I go. Where I will stop, no one knows!

Many patients have complained of dizziness and lightheadedness over my 25-year career. For some patients, finding a reason takes no more than looking at their medical history, where a cervicogenic dizziness or BPPV diagnosis is present, as discussed in last month’s article. For many others, however, there is not a simple solution. There is not one thing that they can pinpoint as causing their dizziness. What do you do if this is the case for you? I suggest we look at various potential causes that may enlighten you in your search for answers.

A common side effect of a lot of medications is dizziness. For example, tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are known to cause this unwanted side effect. An example of this type of medication is Amitriptyline. Levetiracetam, better known as Keppra, is used to manage seizure activity but can also lead to dizziness in some people. Blood pressure medications commonly cause dizziness. Widely used blood pressure medications, including Inderal, Lopressor, and even Norvasc, harbor this side effect.

There are neurological conditions that present with dizziness as well, such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Individuals with Parkinson’s tend to experience orthostatic hypotension, where blood pressure drops upon changing positions causing a feeling of lightheadedness. In addition, Parkinson’s patients often experience vestibular dysfunction. On the other hand, multiple sclerosis patients often complain of dizziness when lesions develop in the brain pathways that manage balance.

Lack of activity is a prevalent cause of dizziness. Most people have felt this kind of dizziness. For example, if you are sick with the flu or other ailment and spend several days in bed, you may be dizzy the first time you get up. You may be woozy for several days after getting over your illness if you have been in bed for quite some time. So, what about people generally inactive due to joint pain, muscle weakness, or fear of falling? This people group may report ongoing or daily dizziness.

A woman lies on her couch covering her face with a pillow because she is dizzy and cannot move

Dizziness can be pretty debilitating. It restricts movement even more, can bring on nausea, and can result in loss of appetite, leading to malnutrition and dehydration. One of the most considerable potential adverse side effects from dizziness is falling, which can result in fractured bones and head injuries.

Is there a resolution to this awful condition? Of course, one of the first things to do is consult your physician to determine if medications are the root cause. Then, setting up an appointment with a skilled physical therapist would be the second step. A therapist is a qualified medical professional who can help you determine the cause of your dizziness AND help you treat it! Therapists can design a specific exercise and activity program to suit your personal needs and address your dizziness at its root cause, ridding you of the sensation of your head spinning and giving you confidence to enjoy life once again!

Sheila Borgen, the author and a seasoned Physical Therapist
Sheila Borgen, PT, Author

Sheila is a freelance writer for physical health, mental health, and parenting. She has four exceptional children, one adopted from South Korea. She lives in Alabama with her husband and children. Sheila enjoys cheering her children on at archery tournaments, soccer games, and color guard performances. She has over 24 years of experience as a physical therapist with a special love for the senior population. Learn more about Sheila at

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