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Does Caffeine Aggravate Vertigo?

by
author image Linda H. Lamb
Linda H. Lamb is a veteran newspaper journalist whose experience includes over 10 years at "The State," South Carolina's largest newspaper. As its medical writer, she was named top beat reporter in the state (2003), with a special interest in nutrition-related issues including obesity, chronic disease management and cancer. Lamb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.
Does Caffeine Aggravate Vertigo?
Vertigo causes the unpleasant sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Various types of dizziness are among the most common complaints that bring people to their doctors, according to MayoClinic.com, but the dizziness of vertigo is in a class by itself. If you suffer from vertigo, it may take some effort to pinpoint the cause and to limit factors such as caffeine that can worsen your condition.

About Vertigo

Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness or motion sickness in which you feel that you or your surroundings are spinning. It’s unpleasant and disorienting. The American Academy of Otolaryngology outlines six primary types or causes of vertigo. Most common is benign positional vertigo, which occurs after you move your head. Another type, Meniere’s disease, involves the inner ear and may include ringing in the ears. Other possible causes of vertigo include migraine, infection, injury and allergies.

Caffeine and Meniere's

Caffeine can be a factor in Meniere’s disease, which may include nausea, hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in your ears. An imbalance of inner ear fluids is thought to cause these symptoms and the dizzy, spinning sensation. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, the diuretic action of caffeine can further disrupt the fluid balance, and its stimulant effects can worsen the ringing in your ears — tinnitus.

Caffeine and Circulation

Vertigo and other types of dizziness also may be affected by blood circulation problems, possibly worsened by stress or heart trouble. Taking in large amounts of caffeine — lots of coffee, for example, or caffeinated soda or energy drinks — can constrict blood vessels and increase your vertigo symptoms. MayoClinic.com advises people with vertigo to avoid caffeine as well as other substances that can affect blood vessels, including alcohol and tobacco.

Other Recommendations

If you have vertigo, avoiding caffeine is just one strategy your doctor may advise. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, you might also limit sugar and salt in your diet, drink extra fluids and avoid migraine triggers such as red wine, smoked meats, ripened cheeses and chocolate. A doctor or physical therapist usually can help resolve benign positional vertigo by maneuvering your head. And medication or other therapies may help ease other types of vertigo.

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