Sunday, April 19, 2015

In a Tizzy About Being Dizzy?

From time to time, I feel dizzy -- I guess that's the right word, meaning lightheaded but not having the sensation of things spinning around. (That's vertigo.)

Yesterday, national Mended Hearts reposted on Facebook a article, "9 subtle signs you could have a heart problem." Number 4 was, "You get dizzy or light-headed."

No alarmism here. This is a symptom that can have a multitude of causes, many of them not necessarily serious -- among them, dehydration, getting up too quickly, anemia, side-effect of medications, inner-ear imbalance. I have had dizzy spells over the years that doctors have attributed to the inner ear. Of course, they might have just been speculating, given that it is pretty hard to diagnose an ear problem. I merely repeat the calming mantra from a childhood toy, "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down."

Then, of course, there is the less-likely possibility that the heart is out of whack. As the article noted, a blockage in your arteries could cause blood pressure to plummet and make you dizzy; or your heart valves may be faulty and unable to sustain blood pressure. I am especially sensitive to that second one in that I have a 10-year-old porcine value (thank you Mr. or Miss Piggy) that I count on to keep the blood circulating properly. It carries no warranties -- 10 years has been a nice run; I hope for another  5 or 10 before having to contemplate a replacement.

So when I have little bouts of light-headedness, I do think about all this, and I stay in touch with my caring and well-informed cardiologist.

For the record, the other eight subtle signs you might (stress might) have a heart problem are:

You are extremely tired.

Your feet swell.

You have extreme pain when you walk.

You get short of breath, even though you're fit.

You are depressed.

You get migraines.

You can hear your heart beat when you fall asleep at night.

Anxiety, sweating, and nausea attack you all at once.

Just as with light headedness, those conditions can have non-heart-related causes. If you want to read the entire article, you should be able to find it in the archives, or at Fox News, which also ran it recently.

So what about my wobbly feeling when I walked Superdawg at midday? That was just before my wife and I went on a shopping expedition for our grandson's upcoming birthday. By the time we finished, we were both famished, so we went to a neighborhood Red Robin where I ordered their gourmet cheeseburger. It was a triumphal combination of fine beef cooked medium well, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, the works -- requiring use of both hands to keep it fairy steady while lifting it toward the mouth.

I ate every bite.

Result: No longer do I feel the slightest bit wobbly or light-headed.

My conclusion: I needed the protein. My blood sugar had dropped. Doctor Pepper no doubt assisted in dispelling any hypoglycemia as well. Yes, if you are diabetic and let your blood pressure get out of whack, you may well start feeling dizzy.

Now, I don't know that my cardiologist would certify my food selection as heart-healthy. But I don't eat super-sized burgers that often. I thought about getting the grilled chicken today but sensed that I needed all that beef and cheese. I think I did.

Now, will I just deem any future bouts of dizziness as proof positive of the need to chow down on the biggest burger at Red Robin -- perhaps the beauty with the fried egg on top? No indeed, I will try to consider the circumstances and read my body, which is something we all need to learn to do as we go through life. It is a good idea to have a reliable blood pressure monitor around. And some baby aspirin. And perhaps above all, the ability to remain calm. You can work yourself into such a tizzy from feeling a little dizzy that you actually go into a panic attack. I know, I had one of those once years ago when I lived a high-stress existence and forgot that Weebles wobble but they don't fall down.

                                                       © Robert G. Holland  2015

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