Vertigo and Running

Dizziness and loss of balance are associated with vertigo, a condition triggered by certain or abrupt head movements. Intense exercise can also lead to feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

Running can cause vertigo. Credit: Oppdowngalon/iStock/GettyImages

Long runs or sprints deplete your water and nutrients — leading to dehydration and low blood sugar — and can stress body systems. Vertigo is typically benign; however, more serious conditions can cause vertigo. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms to receive a diagnosis and treatment options.

Causes of Vertigo

Vertigo has many causes and a variety of effects. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is one of the most common causes of vertigo, according to Mayo Clinic. You feel as if you or your surroundings are spinning or that "your head is spinning inside." You can also lose balance or coordination and feel nauseous.

BPPV occurs after specific changes in head position, a blow to the head or inner ear damage. The situations affect the fluid, sensors and organs inside your ear that control your balance and your body's perception of itself in space. Sickness, abnormalities or damage in your inner ear can result in dizziness and other vertigo symptoms.

Read more: Foods to Avoid for Vertigo

Athletes With Vertigo

Exercise, because it stresses many body systems simultaneously, can lead to vertigo, particularly if you run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. Symptoms can interrupt your workout — in severe cases causing falls — and typically worsen over time until even minimal exercise causes dizziness. Working out on a treadmill may also trigger symptoms. Your body receives signals from your legs, head and arms that you are moving. Stepping off quickly may cause momentary vertigo as your brain catches up to your body.

Minor and Serious Medical Conditions

Minor and serious medical conditions can result in vertigo. Sinus or ear infections cause swelling of the cavities in your head and ears, leading to temporary inner ear dysfunction. Dehydration or low blood sugar can also result in dizziness, and are common occurrences during or after intense exercise.

Meniere's disease also causes episodes of vertigo, ringing in the ears, a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear, and fluctuating hearing loss according to Harvard Health. Dizziness could also be caused by a condition called POTS —postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. People — usually young women according to Cleveland Clinic — who suffer from POTS are advised to exercise closer to the ground on equipment such as the recumbent bike and rowing machines. Tumors, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and low blood pressure may lead to feelings of dizziness and might mean living with vertigo symptoms.

Read more: How Can I tell When My Body Is Hydrated?

Prevention and Treatment

Hydrate and eat properly before running or working out to avoid dehydration or low blood sugar symptoms. If vertigo persists, your doctor can perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of dizziness while moving your head and eyes through a series of motions. Difficult cases may require an MRI or other tests for further information. Treatments can include medications, physical rehabilitation or surgery, depending on the severity of your condition.

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