Dizziness and fatigue are two symptoms frequently reported to physicians in primary care practices. In a study conducted by Drs. Kroenke and colleagues and cited in "The Archives of Internal Medicine" in 1990 only 39% of patients reported receiving treatment that brought relief from these symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms have easy solutions but often together and separately these symptoms point to a variety of underlying causes that can prove difficult to diagnose and treat. Both dizziness and fatigue can occur because of a medical problem, lifestyle or a psychological issue.
Characterizing Dizziness and Fatigue
While dizziness has a limited number of concrete and very specific definitions, causes, and treatments, fatigue often results from putting in too many hours at work or physical exertion. However, fatigue can also demonstrate the sign of a more serious condition including, but not limited to, heart disease, diabetes, low thyroid, cancer and depression. Four types of dizziness described by the Mayo Clinic include vertigo or a feeling of spinning, feeling faint, loss of balance or equilibrium and lightheadedness. Each has multiple causes and treatments. Fatigue is defined as physical and/or mental exhaustion that can result from stress, medication, overwork or mental and physical illness or disease.
Fatigue and dizziness can affect each other as illustrated in the twin syndromes chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. According to the Centers for Disease Control both of these syndromes have complex causes, often of unknown origin. Obtaining refreshing sleep can be problematic for patients with both of these diseases and lack of sleep causes fatigue, lack of energy and exhaustion. Lack of refreshing sleep can also cause dizziness and dizziness and can lead to fatigue.
Your pharmaceutical cabinet can also be implicated in both fatigue and dizziness. Many medications cite warnings not to drive due to potential symptoms of fatigue and dizziness. Dizziness is also a side-effect of anti-seizure drugs, sedatives and tranquilizers.
A particular heart condition called “heart block”, which a problem with the heart’s rhythm, leads to symptoms of both dizziness and fatigue in patients who have this problem.
Unlike chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and other medical problems such as sleep apnea, lack of sleep can be a lifestyle choice and can lead to fatigue and dizziness. According to the National Sleep Foundation several factors can lead to a night of bad sleep including poor sleep hygiene. To improve your sleep hygiene, don't nap during the day, stay away from large meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol near bedtime. Get plenty of exercise. To associate your bed with sleep don't watch TV, read or listen to the radio while in bed. Don't bring your problems to bed. Other lifestyle issues that may or may not be choices that can cause fatigue include overwork, living a stressful life and living in a stressful environment.
Anxiety and depression both play a role in dizziness and fatigue. Symptoms of anxiety and hyperventilation which often go hand in hand cause lightheadedness, one of the four types of dizziness described earlier. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, treatment for anxiety can include a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise. Fatigue can be a symptom of depression. Those who become depressed often sleep too much and fatigue is the result. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Treatment often includes a combination of medication and counseling.
- Archives of Internal Medicine, The Prevalence of Symptoms in Medical Outpatients and the Adequacy of Therapy, LTC Kurt Kroenke et. al., 1990
- Mayo Clinic: Dizziness, Causes
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Clinical Reference Systems, Medicine-Related Problems for Older Adults, No author listed, Feb 1st, 2010
- National Heart Lung Blood Institute: Heart Block