The floor beneath your feet is swaying but there isn’t a ship in sight. Everything’s off-kilter. Once the dizziness subsides, it takes you a moment to get your bearings. If you’re at home relaxing in the living room, it’s not such a big deal, but when you’re at the wheel of your car, it can spell trouble.
If you find that you’ve been having dizzy spells for several days, it might be nothing more than perimenopausal symptoms. Storm’s a-comin’!
Perimenopause, those few transitional years leading up to menopause, may be the most destabilizing period you ever go through, if only because of the phenomenal range of symptoms it can cause. Most of the time, they’re vasomotor symptoms, meaning that they’re linked to the contraction and dilation of your blood vessels. They can include hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks, mood swings, and yes, dizziness. So when the seas get rough, there may in fact be some kind of vessel involved, though it may not be a ship!
Perimenopausal dizzy spells can come out of nowhere and take any of three forms: a feeling that everything is swaying or spinning around you, a loss of balance, or the feeling that you’re going to faint. How is that linked to menopause? Well, while the symptom is well known and very real, the reason behind it isn’t really understood.
It’s likely that the dizzy spells are the direct result of hormonal fluctuations. Reproductive hormones have a significant effect on blood pressure; fluctuations in blood pressure can cause dizziness or vertigo.
Other perimenopausal symptoms can cause dizzy spells as well: intense hot flashes, anxiety, stress and panic attacks. The main cause is still hormonal fluctuations and their effects on your blood vessels.
But be careful: dizzy spells may have nothing to do with menopause and everything to do with another health problem. An ear infection, blood glucose levels, low blood pressure, a liver condition, lack of iron, dehydration or even a virus: all are potential causes of dizzy spells. Talk to your doctor to find out for sure.
Other than holding onto walls to steady yourself, a few simple steps can help you avoid some of the pitfalls:
- Stay hydrated by drinking water, around 1.5 litres a day. A lot of women drink too many beverages that contribute to dehydration—coffee, tea, soft drinks—and not enough plain water. Hormonal variations can affect your body’s ability to retain water, so don’t skimp on it!
- Adopt a healthy diet. Your body is dealing with all sorts of changes, so it needs all the support it can get: fruits, vegetables, protein…
- Relax! Deep breathing exercises can reduce restlessness and stress.
- Lack of sleep can also contribute to dizzy spells.
Prepare for the storm
In stormy seas, you feel the swaying less when aboard an ocean liner than on a creaky skiff. It’s best to be seaworthy! Some plants can help diminish the symptoms.
Vitex is a plant that balances hormone levels. Before your periods completely stop, Vitex can help regulate your cycle and keep hormonal fluctuations to a level at which symptoms are less noticeable. It takes around two months of daily use for the full effect to kick in.
Calming plants can also be useful, not only to help you sleep, but also to relieve anxiety and stress. Passiflora is an excellent nerve tonic. It can be taken for extended periods to help you deal with nerves, insomnia, irritability and agitation.
It may seem like a long journey, but there’s always a clear sky somewhere on the horizon. Twelve months after your periods have stopped, when menopause is over, these symptoms usually disappear on their own. Just keep your sights on the calm seas ahead.