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Why am I feeling lightheaded with dizziness?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 9398 Questions
For the last two or three weeks I have been getting very lightheaded. I get the feeling like I am going to pass out, but I never do. I can feel it coming on and I get lightheaded, shaky, sweaty, and somewhat dizzy. I can feel all the blood draining from my face. This only seems to happen when I am out doing something. It hasn't once happened when I am at home. After it happens I get a pretty bad headache and just feel exhausted and usually go to sleep for a couple hours. The first time it happened I had to leave work. I've been on christmas break for the last two weeks and it has happened about 5 times since the first time. One time I was able to pull myself together and didn't have to leave where I was. But today while I was at the mall I really thought I was going to pass out. While eating lunch I had to get up and leave and go home. I have no idea what this is or why it is happening. After the first time I started to drink a lot more water and made sure I was eating breakfast everyday before work. I've tried to cut down on the amount of coffee I drink and only have about two cups a day now. For about a week I was feeling good and almost forgot about it, but then it came back today worse than it's ever been.
Posted Mon, 27 Jan 2014 in Headache and Migraines
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 1 hour later
Brief Answer: 2 possible causes: Migraine or low blood sugar Detailed Answer: Hello ma'am and welcome. Thank you for writing to us. In my opinion, based on the detailed description provided I would suspect two possible and most plausible causes for your presentation, they are: -Low blood sugar: This relates to all the symptoms like tremors, sweating, dizziness, light headedness, weakness, etc; and particularly the part where you said that hydration and eating well prevented these episodes. For confirming the same, I would suggest you rush to a doctors the next time you experience such an episode and get your blood sugar checked immediately. Or do a home test by consuming sugar water or chocolates immediately. In relation to this possible cause, I would like to ask if you have a family history of diabetes ma'am? -Migraine headaches: These headaches are more common in women than in men, and are usually seen more often in women belonging to the reproductive age group. Migraine headaches usually have a trigger like stress, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, change in sleeping habits (due to the holiday season mentioned by you), etc. Although migraine headaches are considered a common occurrence in women of the reproductive age group and usually just require pain management medication, and MRI of the brain is always advised as part of protocol when these headaches are encountered by medical practitioners I hope you find my response both helpful and informative. Please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications ma'am, I would be more than happy to help you. Best wishes.
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Follow-up: Why am I feeling lightheaded with dizziness? 19 minutes later
I've been eating good and drinking a lot of water for the last 3 weeks, so I don't know how I would have had this happen again today because of low blood sugar. I had eaten breakfast before I left and it hadn't been more than 3 hours since I had eaten. I also don't see how it could be migraines because I don't get a headache until after all the other symptoms happen, almost like it's a result of the lightheadedness, sweating and shaking. Are there any other reason why you think this could be happening? Thank You.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 16 minutes later
Brief Answer: Sure ma'am Detailed Answer: Hello once again ma'am. At times, in some individuals based on their activity, metabolic rate and intake (i.e. amount of food consumed), the blood sugar may start dropping earlier than it usually would in other individuals. This would especially be common in individuals with a high level of insulin production due to abnormalities in the pancreas, abnormalities of beta cells in pancreas, and a few other reasons. In your case, if it had been between 2-3 hours since you had your last meal, I would still say that this gap would be more than sufficient to cause a drop in blood sugar in an individual with an abnormal insulin production. Migraines can rarely present in a different way, but I would still like to rule this out with the help of an MRI. As for other causes ma'am, migraine headaches and low blood sugar are the most common causes, and once ruled out we would have to look into other neurological causes, vascular conditions, pancreatic health, and ophthalmological conditions; as these are the other systems that could possibly result in such a presentation. This is an elaborate search ma'am, but I would recommend starting with simple blood tests to check with functioning of these systems and an MRI of the brain. I hope this information helps you ma'am. Please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications, I would be more than happy to help you. God bless.
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Follow-up: Why am I feeling lightheaded with dizziness? 18 hours later
What should I do to make this stop happening? It makes me not want to leave the house because I get sick every time I'm out.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 22 minutes later
Brief Answer: Most important would be a diagnosis Detailed Answer: Hello once again ma'am. I understand how this can be so frustrating, restricting and limiting to enjoying life to the fullest. But as mentioned in my earlier responses, a diagnosis is the key. Once we diagnose the condition, treatment will be guided accordingly. For now the most important thing would be to stay hydrated, eat small and regular meals more often, and try to also observe your activities to try to find the trigger to the headaches. I would also recommend the use of any of the following drugs sumatriptan or propanolol. But the next best step would be to visit a doctor and get diagnosed ma'am. Unfortunately there is nothing more than that to be done. I hope my response helps you ma'am, please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications. Best wishes.
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Follow-up: Why am I feeling lightheaded with dizziness? 22 hours later
I saw a doctor yesterday and she diagnosed me with the flu. She told me to stay out of work for the rest of the week and make sure I get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. She said the passing out feeling and heart palpitations are being caused by the flu. Does this sound accurate? I'm not convinced. She also said I am probably anemic. I almost passed out at the doctor's office while I was waiting to see her and thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest while it was happening.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 29 minutes later
Brief Answer: Flu cannot, anemia is close Detailed Answer: Hello ma'am. Anemia could cause lethargy, weakness, general feeling of poor health, drowsiness, heart palpitations, and a few other of your symptoms, including the headaches; but I seriously doubt the flu could be the cause for these symptoms. I would advise you to get treated for the flu, check your hemoglobin levels and accordingly either go ahead with blood transfusions (if the level is too low) or iron supplementation (if the level is mildly low). Once this is done, let us then see if the headaches and all other symptoms subside or not. If it does, then great. If not, we will have to consider the investigations I first suggested ma'am. I hope this helps. Please keep in touch. Best of luck.
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