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BarbaraTaylor, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
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Experience:  Mental Health/ Critical Care/ Emergency experience with national certification
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Light Headed and Dizzy, shortness of breath, tingling brain

Customer Question

i am frequently feeling very very light headed and shortness of breath, dizzy. I check my pressure quickly and it is normal. I sometimes get a tingling sensation on the back of my brain. what can it be
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Lindie replied 11 years ago.

Most causes of dizziness (light-headed) are minor. It is important to differentiate simple dizziness from vertigo (a spinning sensation or the feeling that you or the room around you is moving). Vertigo often indicates an inner ear problem but it can also signify a problem with the cerebellum or the brainstem.

Serious disorders may cause light-headiness such as insufficient blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, such as can be caused by a rapid drop in blood pressure. Serious disorders that can cause light-headiness (usually in addition to other symptoms) include heart problems such as a valve disorder or heart attack, stroke, and severe hypotension or shock.

Light-headedness is a fainting feeling that often accompanies the flu, common cold or dehydration. Light-headedness without other symptoms is usually not serious.

Most fainting spells are not dangerous, but if there is any question call for medical help. Sudden loss of consciousness (vasovagal faint) happens more easily when a person is upright. A simple faint is rarely preceded by symptoms such as pain, pressure, constriction in the chest or shortness of breath -- but generalized weakness, nausea, tunnel vision, and sweating may occur.

Dizziness can also be caused by a poorly functioning balance mechanism in the inner ear. This balance mechanism also helps control eye movements, so often the environment seems to be spinning around. Most dizziness and vertigo has no definite cause and is commonly attributed to a viral infection of the inner ear especially in young otherwise healthy people. However, vertigo may be a sign of stroke, multiple sclerosis, seizures or rarely, a degenerative neurological disorder. In such conditions, other symptoms and signs usually accompany the vertigo.

A Panic Attack is defined as the abrupt onset of an episode of intense fear or discomfort, which peaks in approximately 10 minutes, and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

It could be several things Hun.. there are the 2 that come to mind... But the only true way to find out more is to be seen by a doctor. If the symptoms seem to be getting worse or you feel you need to be seen, do seek medical attention asap. You can even check to see if you have an after hours clinic in your area that way you don't have to go the ER. If you do decide that you don't have to seek immediate attention then do at least call your regular doctor tomorrow and make an appt to be seen. Have him do a full blood work up to make sure everything there is fine.

Good luck, if you need anything else please feel free to ask.

Expert:  BarbaraTaylor replied 11 years ago.
With such limited information it is difficult to know what is happening to you.

Things like your age, any medications you are on, history of lung or cardiac problems, length of time this has been happening to you, what precedes this event...all those things help me to have an idea of what is going on w/ you.

If you are relatively healthy but have some anxiety provoking things going on in your life, you may be hyperventilating.

Here is info on hyperventilation:

When there is a change in breathing pattern ....and that can happen if you begin to worry about your heart or anything else, you may begin to hyperventilate. Hyperventilation leads to bodily sensations that are uncomfortable and even scary unless you know what is happening.

You can have heart palpitations or feel fast, slow or irregular heart beats. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded. You may get nauseated, develop a headache and one of the most common symptoms is tingling and/or numbness around your mouth, down your arms and/or in your hands. This can certainly happen around your head as well.

All these things are due to changes in the oxygen level in your blood because of your breathing pattern w/hyperventilating.

And, of course, all these things make you even more anxious because you think you are going to die. Just about the worst thing that can happen from hyperventilation is that you may pass out....and that can be a good thing because THEN your breathing will return to normal.

If you start having the above symtoms, one of the best things you can do is to lie flat on your back so that breathing can become more normalized. Sometimes breathing into a paper bag helps to normalize your blood oxygen and carbon dioxide level.

When people become more educated about hyperventilation, the episodes decrease....and eventually go away. This website might be helpful:

If you feel pretty sure that you are not hyperventilating, please give more information about these events.

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