I used to think that dizziness and vertigo in perimenopause were obscure symptoms. But I don’t think that anymore. In fact, in the past 15 years, I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things regarding perimenopause.
Much of that is simply due to the fact that until you walk a mile in those shoes, as they say, you really don’t know half as much about something as you might think you do.
Before I went through perimenopause, I thought it was going to be nothing more than a few hot flashes and night sweats, and that eventually I would no longer get my menstrual cycles. But that was before I went through it.
I’ve since learned that the symptoms of perimenopause is actually a very long and distinguished list. I’ve also learned that getting help for those symptoms is not always straight forward and easy either. This is due in large part in my opinion, to the fact that when a woman is going through perimenopause, it’s not just her estrogen and progesterone levels which are out of balance.
Her adrenal glands can become fatigued and depleted. Her brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine can also become out of balance, and she can suffer from some sort of thyroid dysfunction as well. In short, everything pretty much goes to hell in a hand basket.
A lot of symptoms of perimenopause are the result of the perimenopause butterfly effect
In my last post I told you about an E-How article that I ran across recently which stated that dizziness and vertigo are two symptoms of hypothyroidism. The fact that I found it on E-How notwithstanding, I was completely fascinated by this for two reasons.
One, many women suffer from hypothyroidism during perimenopause. Two, a lot of women also experience dizziness and vertigo during perimenopause, and are usually told that it’s everything except perimenopause. Why is that?
I think it’s the perimenopause butterfly effect. What begins as simple hormone imbalance during the onset of perimenopause, ends with a long list of whack-a-doodle symptoms which can be attributed to a variety of causes. I also think this befuddles the average physician who doesn’t know where to begin – with the chicken or the egg?
I asked BodyLogicMD if they had any insight into this topic. But, I’m sorry to say with all due respect to Dr. Petruzzelli¹. The answer I received was a garden variety canned medical response which I’ve heard a million times:
Vertigo is the term classically used to describe a feeling of moving when you are not moving. Traditionally, most people describe feeling as if they are spinning. Cases of vertigo are classically linked to issues with the inner ear problem because it is responsible for balance and equilibrium.
Lightheadedness or dizziness more accurately describe a feeling like you are going to “pass out” or faint. This may be due to a number of causes, including low blood pressure, anemia, dehydration, fatigue, anxiety, stress, a cold, the flu, medication (such as sleep medication, anti-anxiety medication, antihistamines, etc.) and alcohol.
Perimenopause and menopause does not usually cause vertigo or lightheadedness. However, a feeling of dizziness may be associated with hot flashes, especially if hot flashes cause stress or anxiety.
If you are experiencing vertigo, I recommend seeing in an ENT (ears, nose and throat doctor) for investigation of the inner ear. Sometimes seeing a chiropractor can be helpful too. Dizziness may be remedied with simple measures, such as avoiding medications that may make you dizzy, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and eating at regular intervals.
This is not to say that Dr. Petruzelli’s answer has no merit. All of the potential causes she points to are plausible explanations for dizziness and vertigo. I mean, who hasn’t jumped up too quickly from a chair, experienced a sudden drop in blood pressure and nearly passed out? It’s common. Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and eating at regular intervals is also good advice for everyone.
But, it doesn’t adequately address the issue.
I’m not suggesting it is perimenopause which is the cause of vertigo and dizziness. As I said, I think it’s a butterfly effect that begins with perimenopause, but ends with a secondary issue like hypothyroidism which does cause vertigo and dizziness.
I started this post with the intention of telling you about a book I bought recently entitled, The Thyroid Solution: A Revolutionary Mind-Body Program That Will Help You, by Dr. Ridha Arem, M.D. But as I often do, I got a bit sidetracked.
I will need to finish this discussion in another post. There’s a lot of good information in this book which I think is relevant, and supports my hunch that perimenopause, dizziness and vertigo, and hypothyroidism are interconnected.
¹Anita Petruzzelli, MD is the Medical Director of the Connecticut-area practice she shares with Dr. Elizabeth Galan. She focuses on empowering her patients to take care of their body and embrace a healthy lifestyle to help them achieve optimal health through structured fitness programs, nutritional guidance and hormonal balance using natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She helps both men and women resolve the symptoms of menopause and andropause including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, declining energy levels, depression and stress. Inspired by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, Petruzzelli wanted to offer her patients alternative treatments to traditional hormone replacement therapy.