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Dealing with Vertigo When Pregnant

Pregnant woman sittingDIZZINESS SUCKS. Yes, we said it. It sucks being unstable in your own body, and it’s horrible experiencing all the symptoms which come along with it. Dizziness on its own can be frustrating, but pairing that with pregnancy hormones… Well, that’s a whole other story!

Many women tend to experience dizziness when they’re pregnant. This can often make you feel extremely weak, unsteady, or cause you to feel faint. Now there is a difference between dizziness and vertigo. Where vertigo refers to the illusion of movement where patients feel as if their surroundings are spinning or moving, dizziness refers to a wide variety of complaints including a vague feeling of unsteadiness to severe acute vertigo. In a clinical setting, dizziness is often used to describe light-headedness experienced in anxiety, during palpitations, in syncope and chronic ill health.

If you are experiencing dizziness, vertigo or other symptoms during your pregnancy, always consult a doctor. Some cases may call for rapid medical attention. Continue reading to find out how you can manage symptoms associated with vertigo and dizziness in pregnancy.
There are many different reasons why women may experience dizziness or vertigo during pregnancy.

Dizziness or Vertigo in First Trimester

Various factors can influence dizziness in the first trimester. Common contributors include the following.

Changes in hormonal levels and decreased blood pressure

During pregnancy, hormonal levels are subject to change. This is primarily to promote increased blood flow in the body, which aids the baby’s development in utero.

Increased blood flow can cause large changes in your blood pressure. Many times, this tends to drop during pregnancy, resulting in hypotension or low blood pressure.

If blood pressure becomes too low, it may result in a feeling of dizziness, particularly when transitioning from a sitting or lying down to standing position.

In consulting with your doctor, they will monitor at your blood pressure at your prenatal appointments. Normally, lower blood pressure alone is no great cause for concern, as it will return to normal levels following pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancy

Another cause of dizziness may be an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy can occur if a fertilized egg implants itself in your reproductive system externally to your uterus. Often, it implants in your fallopian tubes.

In such a condition, pregnancy isn’t viable. Additionally, to dizziness, diagnosis of this condition may also mean that you could experience vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain. Your doctor will need to perform a procedure or prescribe a medication to remove the fertilized egg.

Hyperemesis gravidarum

Finally, early pregnancy dizziness may result from if you are experiencing extreme vomiting or nausea. This condition is known as hyperemesis gravidarum and is usually attributable to changes in hormone levels.

If you have this condition, you may be unable to keep down food or water, resulting in dizziness and weight loss.
To treat this condition, your doctor may:

  • endorse a particular diet
  • hospitalize you so you can receive extra fluids and be monitored
  • prescribe a medication

This condition may disappear in your second trimester, or you may battle with these symptoms throughout your pregnancy.

Dizziness or Vertigo in the Second Trimester

During your second trimester, you may find that symptoms such as hyperemesis gravidarum or low blood pressure may carry over. However, as your pregnancy advances, there are other conditions which may emerge.

Increased Uterus Pressure

As your growing uterus pushes on your blood vessels, it increases pressure, which may cause dizziness. This can occur in the second and third trimester and is common when the baby is of larger size.

Further, lying on your back can contribute to dizziness, as the growing uterus can prevent blood flow from your toes back to your heart. To prevent such symptoms arising, ensure to sleep and rest on your side.

Gestational diabetes

If your blood sugar drops drastically during pregnancy, you could experience gestational diabetes. This condition arises if changing hormonal levels impact the way in which your body produces insulin.

Typically, doctors suggest for pregnant women to undergo gestational diabetes testing between 24 to 28 weeks. If established that you have such a condition, it will require you to follow a strict diet, exercise plan and to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels.

Dizziness or Vertigo in the Third Trimester

In your third trimester, various causes of dizziness or vertigo from the two previous trimesters can carry on to your later stages of pregnancy. It is recommended that you regularly consult your GP or OB-GYN during these stages, to keep an eye on potentially hazardous conditions which lead to dizziness.

During this time, be vigilant in looking for signs of feeling faint to avoid falling, especially during your third trimester. Slow down your movements and use support when necessary to prevent feeling lightheaded and keep feet rested as much as possible.

Dizziness during pregnancy

Some causes of dizziness can occur throughout your pregnancy, without being specifically associated with a given trimester.

Anaemia

Anaemia refers to the condition in which the number of healthy red blood cells have decreased below the level which they should be at. This results from an iron and folic acid deficiency within the body.

Moreover, symptoms paired with these conditions may include tiredness, shortness of breath or becoming paler in appearance. Should you develop this condition during pregnancy, your doctor can check your symptoms and suggest iron or folic acid supplements.

Dehydration

If you are frequently experiencing nausea or vomiting during pregnancy, you may encounter dehydration as your body needs higher levels of water intake to compensate for the loss.

To avoid this, try to elevate your water intake to a minimum of 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.

Managing dizziness in pregnancy

If you experience dizziness, consider these tips:

  • If you experience frequent dizziness, avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Leave the lights on or use a torch when you get out of bed at night.
  • Wear breathable, comfortable clothing
  • Make sure to keep moving when you’re standing to promote circulation.
  • Limit long periods of standing.
  • When you feel dizzy, sit or lie down immediately.
  • Work closely alongside your GP and Physiotherapist to manage your symptoms effectively.
  • Avoid lying on your back in the second and third trimester.
  • Eat healthy food frequently to avoid low blood sugar.

How we can help!

You may be wondering, “how can a physiotherapist help me deal with my vertigo?” Firstly, while we always recommend you consult your doctor regarding any dizziness you may be experiencing, we can work alongside your doctor to take necessary steps to treat the root causes of your vertigo or dizziness.

Here at Central City Health Professionals, we tailor your treatment in relation to the cause and symptoms of your dizziness or vertigo, in order to provide you with the best possible treatment. Majority of people find that through regularly performing prescribed exercises, balance can be enhanced. In this, symptoms including dizziness, fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, nausea and vertigo will be eliminated or reduced.

For more information on how vertigo is treated, simply click here or contact us on 9421 1733 for more information.

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