Vertigo Affects Women Differently Than Men

what is vertigo

Thousands of women key in the search engines query “what is vertigo?”. Studies attribute this trend to how vertigo affects women. Notably, irrespective of age and overall body condition, women tend to experience worse vertigo attacks than men. Have you ever wondered why this happens? How can women cope better with constant bouts of spinning sensations? Discover more about how vertigo episodes affect women as you read on.

What is Vertigo and How Does it Affect Women?

Vertigo or spinning sensation is a common consequence of a faulty vestibular system. However, it can sometimes stem from many health conditions, including inner ear infection and brainstem tumor growth. While it can affect every member of the population, a 2019 study notes that it leaves worse impacts on women. The study further shares that this might be due to the menstrual cycle and the frequent hormonal fluctuations in women. Here are additional vertigo facts and figures to help you understand the whole picture: 

  • Estrogen can serve as an auditory protectant and a building block of inner ear receptors needed in detecting sound and equilibrium changes.
  • Estrogen production and release reach their peaks twice during the menstrual cycle. The first one occurs while the follicle develops and matures, while the second surge happens just before ovulation. 
  • Women who enter perimenopausal and menopausal stages experience a massive decrease in estrogen production. Sadly, studies note that these events increase risks for worse and more frequent vertigo episodes. 
  • Low estrogen levels can cause minor disturbances in the inner ears, especially in women diagnosed with Meniere’s disease.  
  • Estrogen fluctuations can affect female patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Do you happen to know someone who frequently experiences vertigo attacks? Or are you a woman with vertigo-causing conditions or hormonal fluctuations due to aging?

A Closer Look at Vertigo Episodes

Again, because vertigo itself is a symptom and not a condition, these are not symptoms of vertigo. Some explain what vertigo is, and others are symptoms that occur due to it or along with it.

A false sensation of movement

This defines vertigo. Most people perceive it as a spinning sensation. However, any false sensation of movement can be vertigo, including feeling like the room is tilting or swaying. Think back to when you played Pin the Tail on the Donkey as a kid. When you would spin around and stop but everything still felt like it was spinning, that was vertigo. The bad news about having it as an adult is that you can’t control when it happens, and it’s definitely not a game.

Nausea and/or vomiting

If vertigo is severe and last for more than a few minutes, nausea is likely. For very severe cases that go on for an extended time, vomiting can also occur. It’s almost like you are seasick even though the sensation of movement is only happening in your mind. Even closing your eyes is unlikely to stop it.

Drop attacks

Vertigo is one of the most common causes of falls, especially among the elderly. You bend over to pick something up, and suddenly everything begins to tilt and it’s almost like the floor is coming at you, even though it is actually you who is falling. While it is never going to be listed as the cause of death on a person’s medical chart, a fall that is caused by vertigo can certainly be fatal. So never let your doctor or anyone else tell you that it isn’t serious or that you should just learn to live with it. Regardless of your age, now is the time to search for a way to break free from vertigo.

Nystagmus

This is an eye symptom. Because your body is searching for the movement that it perceives but the eyes are saying something different, the eyes may begin to dart in different directions wildly. These eye movements make it easy to diagnose vertigo if you have an episode in front of your doctor.

Headaches

If you get headaches and vertigo, this is a good indicator that you could actually be experiencing migraines. This neurological condition is one of several underlying causes of central vertigo (vertigo that stems from the central nervous system). It is also common for headaches and vertigo to be symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. Both symptoms are common after head and neck injuries.

Hearing loss and tinnitus

When vertigo is combined with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), it could be indicators of Meniere’s disease, a rare vestibular condition that affects about 0.2% of the population. When it comes to Meniere’s, the spinning sensation is usually severe and lasts from 20 minutes up to an entire day. Tinnitus and hearing loss grow worse as the disease progresses, and a hearing test is an important part of getting a diagnosis. If you are experiencing all three symptoms together, be sure to let your doctor know.

What to Do When You Experience Vertigo Attacks 

Now that you are a bit acquainted with the explanation regarding the question “what is vertigo?” we believe it’s equally important to understand how to manage the symptom. This can help reduce the impact of vertigo in your usual routine and ensure that it doesn’t take over your life. Below are a few common remedies that many women seek when they suddenly feel lightheaded or when their surroundings appear to spin.

Hormonal therapy replacement 

Some women who experience severe vertigo attacks due to perimenopause or menopause try hormone therapy replacement. Most hormonal replacement pills contain female hormones like estrogen. As a result, they might come in handy in addressing the spinning sensations. If you have reached the sunset days of your sexual maturity and experience increased vertigo attacks, we strongly suggest consulting with your Ob-gyne doctor. This can help you decide whether to use hormonal replacement therapy. 

Ample restorative sleep

Prioritizing restful sleep is crucial in coping with balance issues. It's essential for women dealing with vertigo to ensure they're getting a good night's rest consistently. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, it might be wise to cut back on late-night screen time, whether it's binge-watching your favorite shows or scrolling through social media. Consider setting a more regular bedtime that's earlier than what you're used to and incorporating some form of physical activity into your daily routine. This can help your body wind down more effectively, making it easier to drift off into a restorative sleep that supports your management of vertigo symptoms.

Stress management

Besides hormonal fluctuations, stress is also a leading trigger of worse spinning sensations. That’s why we suggest learning how to manage your stressors. Here are some exercises you can do to keep your mind and body in a relaxed and calmed condition:

  • Learn yoga breathing
  • Accept things you can’t change
  • Schedule regular jogs or walks
  • De-stress by unplugging from work 
  • Avoid excessive social media exposure
  • Schedule enough time to pamper yourself
  • Explore new things (hobbies, places, skills, etc.)
  • Take better care of your body and avoid vertigo-causing diseases
  • Talk to a professional to help you unravel your thoughts

what is vertigo

Healthy eating

Diet plays a role in the onset of vertigo attacks. It can also worsen or improve vertigo-causing conditions like Meniere’s, BPPV, and inner ear infections. As a rule of thumb, you should limit the consumption of any food or drinks that can stimulate water reabsorption. Examples of these include food rich in sodium and food additives. Besides these, you should also mind your caffeinated and alcoholic drinks intake. Studies have long established that these two can worsen vertigo attacks, regardless of the sex or pre-existing health problem. 

Epley Maneuver

Many patients diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo use the Epley Maneuver to cope. Essentially, this remedy encourages patients to tilt their heads in the direction which triggers the dizzying sensations. This helps retrain the vestibular system and boost the displaced otoliths to return to their original location. We strongly advise doing the Epley Maneuver under the supervision of a therapist. This way, you can do the steps safely, avoid complications, and increase your chances of eliminating the root cause of your episodes.  

Upper Cervical Care

Many people looking for answers to queries like “what is vertigo?” have come across upper cervical chiropractic. That’s because upper cervical chiropractic has established an impressive reputation as an effective source of vertigo relief. It uses gentle chiropractic adjustments to correct postural imbalances that interfere with normal brain and inner ear function.

Women of all ages and backgrounds have tried seeking upper cervical care for vertigo relief. Notably, most women who have tapped into this remedy have a previous history of neck trauma. This happens because the intense blow to the neck can force the cervical bones to slide away from their natural alignment. The misaligned bones can cause a series of problems ranging from slow fluid drainage in the inner ears and pressure to the brainstem and vestibulocochlear nerve. 

By choosing to receive precise and gentle neck bone adjustments, you can relieve the pressure in your brain, brainstem, and balance organs. In addition, the slow and gradual adjustments allow you to retrain your spine and maintain neutral vertebral bone alignment.  

If you share a similar story or wish to address your spinning sensations the best way possible, we suggest locating the nearest upper cervical chiropractic clinic.

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