Light Headed Dizzy

Light headed dizzy patients frequently consult chiropractors.

The chronically light headed patient often finds his or her way to the chiropractic coalface, having heard that adjustments of the neck might help. And it's true, but there's a big question mark.

A very large research project into how chiropractic patients respond to neck manipulation revealed that adverse affects most often related to a wooziness, known in medical terms as vertigo, although they are not precisely the same.

Serious adverse affects like stroke are extremely rare; less than one in one million manipulations but every chiropractor knows to take extra care with the woozy patient.

It's really more related to light headedness or a feeling that one is about to faint. First thoughts relate to low blood pressure, or sugar. For example, cadets standing at attention in the hot sun may start to experience sudden strange spells.

So too, the person who attends early mass prior to having eaten, may feel light headed and dizzy.

Postural dizziness may relate to a sudden drop in blood pressure in the brain when standing up suddenly.

The key to these light headed dizzy sensations is to quickly lie down (before you fall down), have something to eat and drink; in small amounts if you feel dizzy and nauseous.

Light Headed Dizzy

Light headed dizzy attacks also point of course to low blood sugar and pressure too.

Sudden dizzy spells

Sudden dizzy spells, particularly in women, should consider whether they could be anemic; it's caused by a deficiency in either iron or one of the B vitamins. This is done with a routine blood test. Beetroot is one of the best vegetable sources of iron, not to mention probably the best cure for constipation. Beetroot constipation ...

In Holland, medical science is asking serious questions about the prescription of iron tables for anemia; look rather to your diet and let your food be your medicine.

Below you see my lunch yesterday. The wife insists on beetroot salad for iron, and every male shall eat tomatoes every day for his prostate. Here you can see we have achieved the mandatory 8-10 colours per day that we should all be eating daily, in just one meal. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing. Quick hummus will make any salad.

Beetroot salad for iron preventing dizzyness

Because of the world's love-affair with white rice, aka as "beri-beri rice" (polishing rice removes thiamine, vitamin B1), white bread (all the vitamins are removed), a dislike of green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach (B6 and folic acid), and in vegans (B12 deficiency), vitamin B deficiency is not at all uncommon.

Black and White diet

So, if you are light headed dizzy and not eating your mandatory five to ten colours per day, I aim for ten, and whole grain foods, then the place to start is a healthy diet. It's really not difficult to throw a couple slices of bell peppers, a scoop of hummus, a bunch of grapes into your lunch box.

A few slices of cucumber? A leaf of lettuce inside your peanut butter sandwich? Two radishes, half a dozen olives? It really is dead easy to liven up your lunch. 

Plus, I'd recommend a B complex vitamin supplement, not instead of a healthy diet, but in addition to, if you're suffering from vertigo like spells. Adding those colours to your diet is what stops cancer in its tracks even before it takes hold, fixes constipation and generally makes food interesting. And may help with light headed dizzy attacks. 

If in addition to dizzyness you start falling, or feeling like you are about to land on the floor...


BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo, and it's readily treated by many chiropractors using the Epley manoeuvres.

The vertigo part of light headed dizzy, on the other hand, is another ballgame, not unlike a light headed dizzy feeling, but with the added sense that the world, or you yourself, is spinning. It may be associated with nausea and even vomiting and can be extremely unnerving. It's normally caused by a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

How long does vertigo last?

How long does vertigo last is surely a question you will want answered.

Acute attacks usually pass over in a few hours, sometimes lasting a couple days. However, in some cases, certain movements may for years provoke sudden light headed dizzy spells. In Stones in my Clog you can read of a patient in Holland who got me into serious difficulties with the clinic director when she had a severe attack of vertigo whilst I was treating her on regional TV!

It's usually brought on by sudden movements of the head such as looking up, or to the side and up. However, lying down for prolonged periods and not moving the head often aggravates the condition. It's better to get up and move.

There's no simple answer to the how long does vertigo last question. Find someone who knows about the Epley manoeuvres.

A personal story

Chiropractic help

Chiropractic help is for DCs too; because we too suffer from many of these conditions we take an interest in their causes and the treatment.

I suffer from vertigo myself. So every few months, I wake up, turn my head to the right to look at the clock and the world starts to spin. I can feel my eyes oscillating, one of the cardinal signs, but seen only by the astute observer. It's called nystagmus.

What is particularly unnerving for me, is that when I have a chiropractic adjustment for my lower back, rolling onto the right side sometimes produces an attack of nystagmus. It's not related to the manipulation at all, starting before the chiropractic adjustment, but for some reason turning on a chiropractic table is much worse than turning in bed. It has to do with the posture of the head.

The good news is that vertigo almost always responds very quickly to some little exercises called the Epley manoeuvres. So I do the Epleys three times, and it's over for another few months. Sometimes I may feel nauseous for a few hours.

However, your chiropractor will have to first establish which canal is affected. Personally I don't recommend adjusting the neck on the same day as doing the Epleys.

Suffer from a light headed dizzy feeling periodically? Vital to tell your dentist and chiropractor. The changes in the inner ear associated with the (semi) recumbent position can provoke an attack of vertigo, quite unrelated to the treatment.

The most common cause of vertigo (not unlike seasickness) is small crystals of calcium that collect in one of the semi-circular canals in the inner ear, inbibiting the flow of fluid. Then the two inner ear balance mechanisms do not agree. The result: Vertigo dizziness ...

Multiple Sclerosis is another, albeit rare, cause of light headed dizzy attacks.

As stated above, vertigo is caused by unequal input from the right and left balance mechanisms to the brain. Very occasionally this may be caused not by those calcium crystals, but by demyelination of one of the vestibular nerves carrying the information to the brain.

Nerves are coated in a fatty sheath called myelin. It's vital that these nerves are coated in healthy fat, hence the strong move away from hydrogenated fats.

For unknown reasons, a disease called MS attacks this fatty sheath, reducing the conduction of the nerve: in this case vertigo dizziness results, but MS attacks many other nerves too, resulting in other symptoms. It's a rare condition.

What is known in another neurological condition, Motor Neuron Disease (Stephen Hawkins disease), is that a high carb / low fat diet is one of the causes, starving the nerves of their fatty sheath.  Anti inflammatory omega 3 ...

Lettuce wraps

Adding colour to your diet is one of the most important steps if you're in search of better health for yourself and your family. Start with the greens as in these Lettuce wraps recipes; but don't forget the reds, purples and yellows. That's where many of the B vitamins are to be found; deficiencies cause anemia and you're likely to suffer from light headed dizzyness. 

Useful links

Stones in my Clog

Stones in my clog is a serious of short stories from the coalface whilst I was practising in Holland; take a ride through the polders with me and meet some of the most delightful people in the world. They too need chiropractic help. It's only $3 on your Kindle or tablet.

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.